Home » Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process: Mediterranean kick-off seminar – Day 2

Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process: Mediterranean kick-off seminar – Day 2

Yesterday was the second day of the Mediterranean kick-off seminar for the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process. The seminar is being hosted in Thessaloniki, Greece. Our Network Project Manager, Jaume Tormo is attending the seminar. Read Jaume’s update from Day 2 below.

On the second day of the Meditarranean kick-off seminar the attendants took part in discussions regarding freshwater wetland habitats. The sessions were very well directed by Stella Vareltzidu (Management Authority of Axios) and Mark Snethlage (ECNC).

The first session of the day included two presentations about practical cases of management by Anila Shallari and Vasiliki Tsiaoussi. The second presentation was the most relevant for the Eurosite members. Vasiliki Tsiaoussi presented two example, one about river restoration and another about lake restoration. In the river example the main threats were the changes in water level due to upstream hydraulic works and irrigation and the extraction of construction aggregates. The key issues of the project are:

  • It was assume that the river cannot be completely restored, but the project will try to recover the natural flooding regime.
  • Once recovered, the flooding regime restoration took place to recover the structure and stimulate regeneration. The selection of species was based on previous studies of water availability and flooding periodicity.
  • The project managed to get backing from the regional forest service and local authorities and to involve different sectors – mainly agriculture – that play a crucial role in the region.
  • The project focused on low maintenance after the intervention actions because when European funding finishes the locals have to manage the riverbed.

The second example is an unsuccessful but very interesting example of lake restoration. Lake Kerini was created to regulate water flows to fight malaria. It is currently used to store irrigation water, which results in very high fluctuations in the water levels that are incompatible with wetland conservation. Despite the efforts made from a scientific point of view to optimise water management and the agreements reached with stakeholders, restoration was not possible because of government changes and the economic crisis.

During the subsequent sessions, a number of very interesting discussions arose. For example, the problem of habitat definition – currently, some of the habitats are not very well defined. As an example, the case of inland salt marshes was mentioned. The Habitat Directive only includes coastal salt marshes, but salt marshes are a common habitat in the inland areas of most Mediterranean countries.

Conflicts between the Habitat Directive and the Water Directive also arose as a topic of discussion. Sometimes the directives ask practitioners to do different things in the same protected areas. It is a complicated issue that will be studied further in future meetings.

The attendants also pointed out the particularity of freshwater wetlands in the Mediterranean. Their diversity depends not only on water availability but also on water scarcity. That is, most Mediterranean wetlands must dry out during summer in order to maintain their biodiversity. Currently, both human activities and global climate change are altering this cycle of flooding and drying.

Next we look at the project management method proposed by the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. As an example, we identified the threats to habitat 3170 “Mediterranean Temporary Ponds”:

  • Water management: the amount of water that ends up in the wetlands.
  • Water pollution: the quality of water that ends up in the wetlands.
  • Land use changes: uses of the wetlands that harm it.

The conclusions of the discussions will be published by the host organiations soon. Eurosite will also be exploring the possibility of organising a workshop in the framework of the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process about the interactions between agriculture and Natura 2000 area management.