Protection Status

Ramsar Sites: 77 km2

Marine Protected Area: 267 km2

Natura 2000 Sites : 12 SCI/SAC and 7 ZPS | SPA

IBA (Important Bird Area): 1

Oristano: Millimeters that Cost Millions

The Gulf of Oristano in Sardinia, Italy, is a peninsula where 6 of Sardinia’s most important wetlands, Stagni and Lagune, can be found.

The region is famous for sightings of resident and migratory birds, such as flamingos, and culinary delights, such as Bottarga.

By 2100 the surrounding sea level is expected to rise by up to 840 millimeters.

Millimeters that will cost MILLIONS.

Why will the consequences be so expensive?

Rising sea levels, along with rising temperatures, will create a ‘domino effect’ of irreversible damages across economy, food security and health, forcing citizens to tackle multiple crises all at the same time.


  1. Sardinia is known for its high-quality rice, produced in the rice paddies of Oristano.

Not only will increasingly salty soils make growing important crops difficult, but it’s likely that by 2100 one thousand hectares of agricultural land will be underwater 🡪

Expected damages: 2.5 million Euros per year


of these will be rice paddies


of these will include crops (especially tomatoes and artichokes)


of these will be rice paddies


of these will include crops (especially tomatoes and artichokes)


of these will be corn crops


are a mix of other land uses

2. Quintessential to Sardinian cuisine is Bottarga (known as Sardinian Gold) made from curing Flathead Grey Mullet roe. Due to demands, Oristano Bottarga is made from both local and imported roe – with local production estimated at a value of €750,000 (25 tonnes) per year.

The 6 Oristano wetlands are all connected to one another by ecological corridors both on land and by the sea. Rising sea levels will alter the characteristics of all these wetlands, severely impacting wetland fishers and communities who depend on Grey Mullet, European Eel, Sea Breams, Sea Bass, Clams, and other fish and molluscs for their livelihoods and traditions.

Expected damages: 3.5 million Euros per year


Freshwater wetlands will transform into marine ecosystems, threatening the animals and plants that are so iconic to Oristano – and turning a colourful and vibrant landscape into a sea of…well, sea.

The damages will be in biodiversity, natural beauty and identity.


Tourism and Well-Being

Sandy beaches will shrink by approx. 40%, and along with it, tourism-related employment and well-being activities.

Expected damages: 16 million Euros per year


And the places you know and love will disappear…

Estimated economical values of damages are based on current prices and incomes from key sectors (agriculture, fishing, tourism, etc.) being directly affected by sea level rise.


We Can Act Now for Oristano

1. Implement the Integrated Management Strategy, common to all six wetlands, defined within the Coastal Wetland Contract recently signed. It includes a selection of strategic projects/activities aimed at improving the ecological status of water systems, protecting biodiversity and natural capital. The axe F. of the Contract specifically refers to “Mitigation and adaptation to climate change”.

2. Implement nature-based solutions for coastal resilience including protecting natural resources, adding engineered habitats, and implementing restoration practices where development has replaced natural features.

For further information or enquiries please contact:

Vania Statzu
MEDSEA – Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation
Tel. 070 0950439

Data Sources

MedECC 2020 Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate and Environmental Change in the Mediterranean Basin – Current Situation and Risks for the Future. First Mediterranean Assessment Report [Cramer W, Guiot J, Marini K (eds.)] Union for the Mediterranean, Plan Bleu, UNEP/
MAP, Marseille, France, pp 11-40

Dataset of MEDSEA Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation, collected within the process “Oristano Coastal Wetlands Contract”.