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Restoration of Mediterranean Wetlands

 

 

Wetland restoration is defined as the creation, re-establishment, or enhancement of wetland functions to a self-sustainable level.

Nile river, Axios river, Jordan river, Sea of Gallilee. The wetlands have been places where the Mediterranean civilizations thrived. Wetland ecosystems were strongly related to human welfare and the conservation of natural resources. During the last decades, the increasing population and the dominance of unsustainable policies pertaining to human activities such as crop and animal farming, tourism, urban and industrial development, etc. have taken a heavy toll of Mediterranean wetlands.

 The human ignorance of the wetland functions and the wetland multiple values had as a consequence the degradation, even the complete drainage of some wetlands.

About two thirds of the wetland area in the Mediterranean basin were drained, while most of the remaining area continues to deteriorate. The restoration of Mediterranean wetlands is a necessity. All the countries of the Mediterranean have expressed through their participation in the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet) their decision to promote the undertaking of many more restoration projects.

The Greek Biotope\Wetland Centre (EKBY) decided to contribute to the dissemination of wetland restoration know-how in the Mediterranean, because:

  • there is moral obligation to the Mediterranean history and civilization,

  • economic activities (e.g. tourism, agriculture, etc.) are based around wetlands,

  • wetlands control the quality of life,

  • restoration is demanded by European and International laws,

  • the climate is changing and we must be prepared to face the consequences.

The book "Restoration of Mediterranean Wetlands", which was recently published by EKBY with funds from the Hellenic Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, is a collective effort. Scientists from Greece, Spain, France, the USA, Israel, Italy, Great Britain and Czech Republic, present their experience and work related to the restoration of Mediterranean wetlands.

The book aims to provide up-to-date information on theoretical and applied aspects of wetland restoration in the Mediterranean. It adds to the more theoretical and extensive books on restoration previously published. The book focuses on scientific and technical issues, and attempts to analyze the restoration efforts made in the Mediterranean and to outline the lessons drawn from these efforts. It also shows that restoration projects in order to produce maximum benefits and to cause the establishment of sustainable ecosystems need the use of modern methods from various disciplines, such as agronomy, biology, engineering, forestry, physical planning, sociology, etc.

The book, 286 pages in the Greek edition and 236 in the English one, is divided into three parts. In the preface the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention Mr. Delmar Blasco points out that restoration must be recognised as an activity that deserves important investment.

Part One discusses the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of restoration, for example the importance of eco-hydrology, the significance of the soil and the wetland vegetation and fauna. Part Two provides guidelines on site selection, design, and monitoring of restoration, and also the restoration potential in Greece. Part Three presents regional restoration experiences in the Mediterranean (e.g. Axios river, Mavrouda Lake, L' Albufera wetland, etc.).

June 2002