Wetland4Change kickoff meeting

Adaptation to climate change impacts constitutes a key challenge in the Euro-Med territory, an area with high vulnerability in drought and flood events. Wetlands stand as allies in our efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. Their good condition entails the provision of significant benefits and services to both nature and people. Thus, it is vital to quantify their benefits and services, and communicate them to decision-makers and practitioners in order to improve take-up and rollout conservation and restoration measures.

The new launched INTERREG Euro-MED project “Wetlands-based solutions for climate change adaptation, risk prevention and mitigation – Wetland4change” focuses on two crucial regulating services of wetlands: carbon sequestration and flood regulation. Carbon sequestration is a wetland ecosystem service that contributes to mitigating the impacts of greenhouse gases from climate change, as wetlands contribute to their absorption from the atmosphere, while flood regulation is a critical ecosystem service of wetlands that contributes to the mitigation of impacts of floods and increase our resilience in future extreme rainfall events.

For this, Wetland4Change aims to test and validate transferable solutions in 5 Mediterranean countries, based on wetland conservation and restoration measures and good practices, in order to accelerate the capacities of wetland managers and of policy makers to cope with the climate change impacts at local and transnational level as well. The project is carried out by the Faculty of Ecology and Landscape Architecture of the Forestry University in Bulgaria (leader), the Goulandris Natural History Museum / Greek Biotope – Wetland Centre in Greece, the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Valencia in Spain, the Tour du Valat Research Institute in France, the Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation (MedSEA) in Italy, and the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis of the University of Malaga (ETC-UMA) in Spain.

The Goulandris Natural History Museum / Greek Biotope – Wetland Centre will address three policy levels through its associated partners: the Municipality of Irakleia, the Regional Unit of Serres, and the Managing Authority of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan 2023-2027 of Greece. Lake Kerkini, one of the 10 Greek Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, along with more than 80 smaller wetlands in the broader catchment area of the Strymon River, represents the case study for Greece. The role of wetland ecosystems in flood regulation and carbon sequestration will be tested and validated. Particularly for the latter, technical and governance aspects will be explored as regards the implementation of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition for wetland protection (GAEC 2), of the new CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027, in close collaboration with its Managing Authority. Based on the results, a comprehensive plan of wetland-based solutions and best practices will be proposed, which can be adopted by competent authorities leveraging the significant services offered by wetlands in the region.

The project kick off meeting took place on April 3 and 4, 2024, in Sofia, Bulgaria, attended by researchers from GNHM/EKBY and representatives from the Municipality of Irakleia and the Regional Unit of Serres, on behalf of Greek participation. Participants had the opportunity to present their study area and discuss methodologies and data to be used in the project’s subsequent phases. The project will last for three years, with all results expected by September 2026.