Coastal Wetlands of Oristano, Sardinia, Italy. Photo: © MedWet/C. Amico
Factsheets of successful restoration cases
Discover successful restoration cases of a few Mediterranean coastal wetlands used as a Nature-based solution to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis in the region. These are tools that can help you understand where to start from, the challenges to face and the results that can be obtained, for nature, people and local economies.
CHIUVINA TEMPORARY POND – SANTO PIETRO DI TENDA, AGRIATE, CORSICA, FRANCE
The temporary pond of Chiuvina, Corsica, located in the Agriate in the commune of Santo Pietro di Tenda, has been colonized in recent years by two invasive plant species: Dittrichia viscosa, native to the island, and Paspalum distichum, an exogenous species.
These compete with species characteristic of priority community interest habitat 3170,* ‘Mediterranean temporary ponds,’ and in particular Elatine brochonii, a small annual amphibious plant that is protected on French territory.
Corsica is the only island on which this species is present. It’s currently known to be found at three locations, Chiuvina, Purcilella and Padulellu; all are threatened (high human presence, filling-in of wetland features, presence of invasive species).
LUCIO DE ADVENTUS (FINCA LA PARDILLA) – TREBUJENA, CÁDIZ, ANDALUCIA, SPAIN
The site is very favourable for wildlife, close to the Guadalquivir Estuary in the Doñana area. A shallow excavation in an area that had previously been heavily transformed created a marshland with five islands, and these were immediately occupied by black winged stilts, avocets, redshanks, little terns, pratincoles, Kentish plovers and some wildfowl species, notably marbled teal. After three years the site is already being economically exploited by two local firms, one for aquaculture (shrimps) and the other for ecotourism. Both companies are local, based in the nearby village of Trebujena.
Since the area was restored a monitoring programme is taking place to monitor biodiversity, water quality and CO2. Local NGOs also take part in various activities, for instance environmental education. One of the most important successes is the three pairs of marble teal which have been breeding at the site since the very beginning of the project. The Adventus marsh is a good example of how wildlife conservation and sustainable development can add great value to abandoned land which was wrongly transformed in the past.
MISTRAS LAGOON – CABRAS, SARDINIA, ITALY
The sites are located in the Mistras Lagoon, between San Giovanni di Sinis (to the south) and Torregrande (to the east). This ecosystem extends for about 600 hectares, is directly connected with the sea by a single opening, and does not benefit from significant freshwater inputs. The higher salinity of the pond, caused by evaporation, is reflected both by the aquatic vegetation, which is limited to a few species, as well as the vegetation of halophilic wet meadows, which is adapted to high salinity.
The Mistras Lagoon is recognized as a site of international importance for wetland wildlife, and it is listed under the Ramsar Convention.
The species which the restoration activity aims to support is the osprey (Pandion haliaetus). In the 1960s the osprey was extinct in Sardinia, mainly due to the massive doses of DDT used to fight malaria, along with direct persecution. According to the latest monitoring carried out by the Osprey Research Group of Sardinia, the population now numbers 22 individuals, but they are only present during the winter. Artificial nesting structures could help a few individuals to stay on to nest in the spring and summer.
MORONIS ESTUARY – SOUDA, MUNICIPALITY OF CHANIA, CRETE, GREECE
The Moronis estuary consists of the estuarine waters of the Moronis river, a small area of salt marshes, and a marine area with permanent shallow waters. In the past, the whole area of Souda was an extended marshland; the first known human interventions date back to the Venetian period, when part of the wetland was converted into saltpans. In 1872 the saltpans were drained and the area was settled, while pressures continued with drainage, embankments, road building and crop expansions.
In 2010 the wetland was partially restored by the municipality, following a study prepared by WWF Greece. During these restoration actions, more than 10,000 m3 of debris were removed from an area of 0.9 ha. The most significant habitat types based on the EU Habitats Directive classification in the wetland are Estuaries (1130) and Soft substrata without vegetation (119A), while other habitats are Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand (1310), Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi) (1410), and Reed thickets (72A0).
SAINT SEREN – CAMARGUE, PROVENCE-ALPES-CÔTE D’AZUR, FRANCE
Saint Seren is a shallow, temporary, oligo- haline marsh (maximum depth 70 cm) with large areas of shallow water in winter (0-10 cm). It is surrounded by salt flats dominated by Salicornia fruticosa and Arthrocaulon macrostyachum scrubs, and is sheltered from the wind in the northeastern and southwestern sectors by Tamarix gallica bushes.
At the time of the restoration, the emergent vegetation was composed of the reeds Bolboschoenus maritimus, Shoenoplectus littoralis and S. tabernaemontani, with Phragmites australis and (on the edges) Paspalum distichum. When left uncut, these plants formed a dense reedbed 70-200 cm high. The submerged vegetation consisted mainly of Chara sp., Zannichellia pedunculata and Z. obtusifolia, Ranunculus peltatus subsp. baudotii and some Stuckenia pectinata and Potamogeton pusillus.
STAGNO DI SALE ‘E PORCUS – SAN VERO MILIS, SARDINIA, ITALY
The project is located within the Sale ‘e Porcus pond (inside the territory of San Vero Milis), which is a temporary basin for collecting rainwater. It has no communication with the sea and no intakes, and is subject to drying up in summer.
The conservation status of the habitats within the site varies. The habitats are largely fragmented and the natural vegetation series characteristic of pond and peristagnal areas is only present in a few small spots.
The ecological connections between the various coenoses are fragmented, and their natural evolution is significantly disturbed due to the considerable anthropic pressures around the pond area (passage of cars, agricultural vehicles, crops, etc.).
During the breeding season, the wetland is used by species including purple herons, marsh harriers and sultan chickens, all three of which are listed in Annex I of Directive 79/409/EEC. It is also a transit area for avifauna during flights between the Sale ‘e Porcus and Mistras ponds.
Tancat de la Pipa, ALBUFERA NATURAL PARK – VALENCIA, SPAIN
Tancat de la Pipa is a nature reserve within the Albufera de València Natural Park, located on the north shore of the lake between the Catarroja Port Canal and the mouth of the Poyo Canal, in the Valencia Municipal District.
It is the result of a process of ecological restoration carried out in 2007 by the Júcar River Authority (Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar), when 40 hectares of rice fields were transformed into a freshwater wetland habitat. The area now functions as a biodiversity reserve thanks to the continual process of water improvement that takes place through its green filters and lagoons.
The reserve is managed by two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Acció Ecologista-Agró and SEO/BirdLife – who monitor its biodiversity and carry out environmental education and public awareness activities. This is possible thanks to the establishment of land stewardship agreements between the NGOs and the owner of the site, the Júcar River Authority. Formal collaboration agreements with the València and Catarroja City Councils also give support to the project. The Polytechnic University of València and València University study the ecological processes within the reserve.
VERDIER MARSHES – SOUTHERN
Community-based conservation empowers local people in the management process through partnerships in planning and implementation of conservation projects, with the aim of creating accountability and a sense of ownership of conservation objectives. We have taken this concept a step further, using community- based conservation principles in the planning, implementation and monitoring of a wetland restoration project. With the active collaboration of the local community, scientists from Tour du Valat (which is also the landowner) have recovered 120 ha of natural wetlands that had been converted for fish-farming.
The conservation objective was to restore key traditional Camargue habitats by moving from artificial marsh exploitation with high, continual water levels to a more natural management approach with seasonal fluctuations in water levels. The results of participatory monitoring have shown a return of traditional flora and fauna, with the recovery of permanent and temporary marshes, reed beds, pastoral vegetation and bush lands. The project evaluation showed that stakeholders appreciated their involvement in a co-learning process where habitat management, plant ecology, local uses of plants and game birds were discussed in depth with scientists and villagers.
VIGUEIRAT MARSHES –
ARLES, RHÔNE DELTA, FRANCE
The domain is characterized by a mosaic of natural wetlands and abandoned agricultural land, in particular abandoned rice fields – which were cultivated from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Cultivation practices related to rice growing have significantly modified the environmental conditions, giving rise to the possibility of natural (passive) restoration of the original environments.
The practice of levelling, soil compaction, and the construction of dykes and canals induce a fragmentation into flat plots with higher levels of salinity. Before the restoration, these agricultural wastelands provided very poor habitats for flora and fauna and were not conducive to pastoral activities.