Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wetlands in Focus

International Symposium on Mediterranean Wetlands and Water

A new International Symposium will be held in Agadir, between 6-8 February. The symposium will review and evaluate the progress made in the twenty years since the Grado summit in Italy. Grado was a turning point that revitalised interest among the scientific community for Mediterranean wetlands, creating great impetus that led to developments such as the establishment of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet).

 The new symposium will evaluate what has happened in the ensuing twenty years in regards to water and wetlands in the Mediterranean Basin, and hopefully will highlight problems and risks wetlands face and make plans for the next twenty years.

The Symposium aims to bring together and promote closer collaboration among wetland stakeholders so as to identify changes and their effects on Mediterranean wetlands and propose solutions for increased sustainability of water resources.

 The Symposium is being organised under the aegis of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which is one of the main partners, along with the Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte contre la Désertification (Morocco), the MedWet Initiative, Tour du Valat and many others. The event is funded by the MAVA Foundation for Nature, the Italian Ministry of Environment and the MedWet Initiative. Med-INA director Thymio Papayannis chairs the International Organising Committee.

 The Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory (MWO) will present, for the first time, the findings of their first report, a three year study to monitor the status and trends of Mediterranean wetlands; this will be the main tool by which the current situation will be reviewed.

Additionally the Symposium will see the participation of young people from four Mediterranean countries that will be involved in their own thematic sessio Med-INA is participating in the Symposium in thematic session four (Values of wetland cultural services) and in the poster competition presenting the MAVA-funded project ‘Culture and wetlands in the Mediterranean: Using cultural heritage aspects for wetland restoration actions’ that is ongoing.

Action in Morocco
The Environmental Protection Associations of Eastern Morocco will be watching the International symposium with some interest.  They are involved in a campaign to save the Moulouya river from further pollution. The Moulouya River (Oued Muluya) runs 520 kilometres to the sea from its sources are in the Middle Atlas.

the Moulouya
Environmentalists are supporting the people of the rural commune of Ouled Settout Zaio in their opposition to the draft authorisation to allow the SUCRAFOR company to dump its sewage and polluted waste in river via its confluence Oued Betha).

Interesting timing? The public inquiry that was opened by the Hydraulic Basin Agency of Moulouya will close February 9, one day AFTER day the symposium ends

Some key figures about Mediterranean wetlands 

The UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre has estimated that wetland cover approximately 570,000,000 hectares – roughly 6% of the Earth’s land surface.
The Medwet Initiative includes: 27 countries, 343 Ramsar Mediterranean sites, around 6 000 000 hectares classified (over an estimation of 13 000 000 hectares).
The Mediterranean region risks losing 56% of endemic freshwater fish, 36% of freshwater crabs and crayfish, 29% of amphibians, 19% of dragonflies during the next decades. 17% of mammals, 13% of reptiles, 42% skate and shark species face a high risk of extinction in the Basin (source UICN).
By 2025, 95 million new inhabitants are expected in the Mediterranean Basin;
390 million international tourists will visit the Mediterranean Sea;
330 km3 of freshwater will be mobilized every year for the human activities (source Plan Bleu).
Some regions in the Mediterranean lost 60 % of their natural wetlands during the 20th century:
Italy: of the 3 million hectares of wetlands existing at the time of the Romans, only 190 000 hectares remain today
Tunisia lost 28 % of their wetlands during the last 100 years
Spain lost 60 % of its natural wetland surface areas principally the last four decades
What will be the figure for Morocco? 


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