Mediterranean coastal wetlands: the land use synthesis

NT3 synthesis MWOThis third thematic note easy to read and available in three languages, is a synthesis of the second thematic report: Land cover – spatial dynamics in Mediterranean coastal wetlands from 1975 to 2005.

Between 1975 and 2005 the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory (MWO) carried out a study of the evolution of land use in 214 coastal wetlands across 22 Mediterranean countries, in accordance with the methodology adopted in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) GlobWetland II Project. This made it possible to draw up maps based on satellite images and to calculate indicators that provide information on the evolution of the surface area of both natural and artificial wetlands, and thus enabled recommendations to be made on how to preserve them.

The main results are a 10% decrease in natural coastal wetlands over 30 years, a 54% increase of artificial wetlands, a 20% decrease in surrounding non wetlands natural habitats.

The main causes of natural wetlands coastal habitats decline:

Camembert note MWO

Recommendations for the protection of wetlands and the well-being of the populations that benefit from them:

  • Improve the identification of wetlands in each country, raising awareness about them as well as of the services they provide;
  • Protect existing natural wetland habitats, or restore them if they are degraded;
  • Re-naturalise artificial wetland habitats in order to improve the services provided by wetlands and biodiversity;
  • Guarantee the effective, sustainable management of coastal wetlands, setting up mechanisms that allow local populations to generate income;
  • Manage water resources sustainably, rationalising their use in agriculture, taking the needs of ecosystems into account; and
  • Rethink coastal development to adapt to the foreseeable receding of the shoreline.

The synthesis is available online:

In English

In French

In Arabic

If you need hard copies, please contact us at