Effective use of Remote Sensing Data for Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands: a contribution from Tour du Valat to ECOPOTENTIAL

Ilse Geijzendorffer, Tour du Valat (FR)

Effective management of protected areas is a real challenge to achieve under the impacts of global change, with governance styles and contexts differing between countries. Being able to make informed decision based on which measures are effective and where they should particularly be enforced helps both protected area managers as well as decision makers to address the ongoing degradation of habitats and loss of biodiversity. This in turns helps countries progress on several Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Aichi targets.

The Camargue at sunset. © SG

The Tour du Valat research institute has been able to work with other partners from the ECOPOTENTIAL project to strengthen the potential use cases of remote sensing data for the management of protected areas, the mapping of habitats and the identification of climate change impacts towards the future. This has led to a joint publication with the sister project SWOS (H2020 grant agreement No 642088) on how changes in the extent in Mediterranean wetlands could be mapped and which methodological challenges remain (Perennou et al., 2018). With the Ramsar convention hosting the work on indicator 6.6.1 (change in extent of water-related ecosystems) for the Sustainable Development Goals, ongoing work in ECOPOTENTIAL contributes to both informed decisions for wetlands managers as well as global policy conventions. In 2018, the Tour du Valat was able to launch the second edition of the Mediterranean Wetland Outlook, a report on the status and trends of Mediterranean wetlands for the Mediterranean countries that are committed to the Ramsar convention (Mediterranean Wetland Observatory, 2018). 

In this report, the collaboration with ECOPOTENTIAL partner iDiV was especially fruitful in identifying the future impacts of climate change on Mediterranean wetlands and whether the highest impacts coincide with a protection status. Roxanne Leberger (iDiV) together with colleagues from iDiV and Tour du Valat just submitted a manuscript in which she determined that it seems more to be the inverse: wetlands with the highest climate change impacts (precipitation and temperature) are also least covered by protection status (Leberger et al., submitted). 

In another recent paper, we use the findings of the Mediterranean wetland Outlook 1 and 2 as well as findings from ongoing research in the ECOPOTENTIAL project to distill recommendations for the Ramsar convention to help Mediterranean countries to become more effective in their conservation and sustainable management of Mediterranean wetlands (Geijzendorffer et al., 2019). One of our recommendations is that remote sensing data and easy interpretation interfaces, like those developed in the ECOPOTENTIAL project, can help countries and site managers with limited means and capacities in obtaining some continuous monitoring information at site level.


Perennou C, Guelmami A, Paganini M, Philipson P, Poulin B, Strauch A, Tottrup C, Truckenbrodt J, Geijzendorffer IR. Mapping Mediterranean wetlands with remote sensing: a good-looking map is not always a good map. In Advances in Ecological Research 2018 Jan 1 (Vol. 58, pp. 243-277). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2017.12.002

Mediterranean Wetland Observatory (2018). Mediterranean Wetland Outlook 2: Solutions for sustainable Mediterranean Wetlands, eds I. R Geijzendorffer, L. Chazée, E. Gaget, T. Galewski, A. Guelmami, and C. Perennou (Tour du Valat) (Available online at: https://tourduvalat.org/en/actualites-en/press-releaseextreme-climatic-events-biodiversity-loss-what-if-wetlands-were-part-ofthe-solution/)

Leberger R., Geijzendorffer I.R, Gaget E., Guelmami A., Galewski T., Pereira H.M. and Guerra C.A. submitted “Mediterranean wetland conservation in the context of climate and land cover change” Geijzendorffer IR, Beltrame C, Chazee L, Gaget E, Galewski T, Guelmami A, Perennou C, Popoff N, Guerra C, Leberger R, Jalbert J. A more effective Ramsar Convention for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 2019;7:21. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00021