Coastal wetlands in Oristano have been central to Sardinia’s economy and culture for hundreds of years. A rich heritage developed on the back of the agriculture and fishing that supported the population, two activities particularly suited to the fertile soils, clean waterways and fish-filled coasts around Oristano. Natural wetland processes provided clean water for locals and protected them from floods and storm surges, while creating ideal conditions for biodiversity to flourish.
Over the years, however, Oristano’s wetlands have been severely degraded. This has led to blocked and polluted waterways, habitat fragmentation, biodiversity loss and erosion; while increasing saltwater intrusion is inevitable as global heating drives increased coastal flooding. A coordinated response is needed: we’re working with local communities to enhance their wetland environment to a point where it can once more provide the resources to guarantee new, sustainable livelihoods – as well as some protection against climate change.
This why the Maristanis project was launched. It is an international cooperation project that aims at defining an integrated management model for the coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Oristano; cofunded by the MAVA Foundation and coordinated by the MEDSEA Foundation in collaboration with the Marine Protected Area “Sinis Peninsula – Mal di Ventre island”.
Intensive agriculture, livestock and aquaculture
Increased precipitation variability, extreme weather events
Project action areas: Wetland-based Solutions
Improve knowledge on all aspects of Oristano wetlands
Establish a new wetlands management process with both public and private sectors
Ensure connectivity of wetland systems
Promote sustainable water management
Enhance economic and cultural value of local heritage, restoring society’s bond with wetlands
Oristano Coastal Marine Wetlands Contract
The Gulf of Oristano is home to 85,000 people, but significant parts of the area could be flooded by 2100 due to climate change. In response to this threat, the Oristano Coastal Contract is a ground-breaking multidisciplinary policy plan that involves mayors, citizens and businesses all working together towards the effective management and sustainable development of the territory. The agreement signed in Oristano has since become a model for collective management of wetlands in the Mediterranean.
Meet Wetlanders from Oristano
The gentle guardians of the lagoon
Alberto was working in a supermarket and his brother Alessandro was a computer engineer – but today they’re running the Sant’Andrea fisher cooperative in the Gulf of Oristano. Here, they tell us about the importance of their mission.
A dream of wetlands and people
Piera Pala is one of the main actors behind the Coastal Contract that was signed in 2019 by 11 mayors and local authorities in the Gulf of Oristano in Sardinia, Italy. In this short film, she tells us the story of how her dream came true.
Oristano is telling its stories
From above, the drone commands a view of the Gulf of Oristano, Sardinia, the blue sea bounding the yellow, green and brown fields of May, tractors moving slowly along the tracks and the rectangle of young corn below. The small humming spot settles, then begins to make regular zigzags across the rectangle of the crop.
“In the old times fishing began in September, now we start in March. Everything has been intensively exploited for decades, and we are now paying the consequences. The rain is irregular, the reeds die and some species become extinct because of the exceeding salinity of the water”, explains Danilo, a fisherman in Oristano. “We do our best. We respect the fish while it grows, we take care of the lagoon, it’s our home, but it is a bigger problem than us, and despite the subsidies we barely survive.”