MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
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Moroccan Project Document
Provinces of Nador and Berkane
September 1999, by Web Team

This project is the Moroccan component of a Mediterranean regional initiative involving Albania, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority and Tunisia. The overall initiative is aimed at ensuring the sustainable management the biological diversity of the coastal areas and wetlands in 6 Mediterranean countries/ Authority, through the development of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks, the creation of institutional organizations adapted to the complexity of the issues at stake, capacity-building and the development of an exchange network at the regional level both to achieve economies of scale and to save time when implementing and replicating the innovating actions undertaken.

The objective of the project is to create or enhance the exchange structures and fora concerned with this general management:
-  By establishing interministerial coordination mechanisms for projects undertaken at the local and national levels;
-  By developing demonstration activities at the most significant sites;
-  By awareness-raising, training and networking of the population groups and the social and economic actors and establishing linkages between them around the Mediterranean basin.


The main objective of this project is to build capacity in the participating countries in the Mediterranean region to conserve threatened, globally significant biodiversity in coastal and wetland eco-systems within the framework of sustainable coastal development. The project therefore aims at «closing the Mediterranean circle», in terms of wetland and coastal conservation initiative. The project will ensure that lessons learned and experiences made in the northern rim of the Mediterranean can be effectively transferred and, where applicable, applied and/or adapted to the prevailing circumstances in the participating countries. The regionality of the project provides a greater cost effectiveness and effectiveness for such information and experience transfers both on a north-south basis as well as on a south-south basis.

For the purposes of this project, eligible wetlands, primarily of lagoon type, are those whose flows are interconnected with the Mediterranean Sea, while coastal areas are the terrestrial components of the coastal zone in the vicinity, and under the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. The project does therefore not address navigational and marine pollution issues and nor marine biodiversity. These are presently covered by other existing and planned programmes, in particular under MAP/UNEP (GEF PDF B: Formulation of a strategic action programme for the Mediterranean Sea to address pollution from land-based activities).

This proposal addresses conservation of globally threatened biodiversity in 16 important wetland and coastal sites in five Mediterranean countries and in the Palestinian Authority. Through a combination of innovative land-use and wetland policies at national level, site protection and management at local level and regional networking and exchange of experience the proposal will provide a biodiversity protection increment to other brown programme addressing pollution and water resource issues in the beneficiary countries/authority. At site level mechanisms for taking account of local concerns and ensuring local participation and economic returns are built into the project from the outset.

The Mediterranean region has seen the rise and fall of many empires over the last 2500 years. Numerous invasions and commercial links, many of them by sea, have seen eastern traders found cities in the western basin, Catalan influence extend as fax as Greece, and Arabic culture penetrate well into the Iberian peninsula. These fluxes, together with the enclosed nature of the sea, have led to the establishment of a common Mediterranean identity and culture. This identity is reinforced by the circum-Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and rainy winters, which is also responsible for the development of ecosystems characteristic of the region.

The Mediterranean coastline (26,000 km) is an area of high biodiversity, where more than 50% of the 25,000 plant species are endemic to the region. It is also a critical area for migratory birds in the Africa-Palearctic flyway as wetlands in the region provide an essential flyway stepping stone on either side of the Mediterranean Sea and between the sea and the vast expanse of the Sahara desert to the south.

The major threats to the exceptional biodiversity of these wetland and coastal ecosystems related to uncontrolled development, urbanization, increasing national and international tourism, land-based pollution, and unplanned or over-exploitation of natural resources, in particular freshwater.

Aware of their common heritage, the Mediterranean States and European Union have developed common programmes and policies for the sustainable development and conservation of the coast since 1975. The Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP Regional Seas Programme), the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, METAP, LIFE, MedWet, Natura 2000 and MEDA (EU) are some of these regional initiatives.

The MedWet programme for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands originated from the Grado Conference (Italy, 1991). The initiative was recently widened (Venice, 1996) where all the riparian States present endorsed a common strategy for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands. In parallel, the Mediterranean Action Plan, Conservatoire du Littoral (France) and Ramsar Convention secretariat held a joint technical meeting on coastal zone management (Hyeres, 1995) where 12 countries agreed on the need to develop land use policies for effective management of the coastal zone..Today, the States of the Mediterranean region are at different stages of economic and institutional development and therefore differ in their capacity to address biodiversity issues within the context of sustainable development. Incremental funding is required to allow them to implement agreed regional policies in the field.

The overall GEF-funded Wetlands and Coastal project includes six countries/authorities, namely Albania, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority.

Recent Developments

A number of changes in the Moroccan institutional structure have occurred in recent years. In February 1995, the Under-Secretariat of State in charge of environmental issues within the Ministry of the Interior, created in 1992, was reorganized as the Ministry of Environment. This Ministry is responsible in particular for the coordination of national and international activities undertaken within the framework of the preparation of policies and strategies regarding the environment and development.

In 1997, an institutional reorganization brought together the ministerial department s in charge of agriculture, equipment and environment to create one single entity within which environmental matters have been entrusted to a secretariat of State. In addition, the decentralization process currently underway has provided for the creation of Regional Councils that will be elected during the fourth quarter of 1997. According to the provisions of the 1997 Dahir on the power of the governors, the governor of the Regional seat is empowered to implement the decisions of the Regional Council; therefore, the Walli of Oujda will act in that capacity for the Oriental Region.

The other institutions concerned with the environment are the National Environment Council (CNE), an advisory entity with concertation functions chaired by the Minister of Environment. At the regional level, newly created entities are the Regional Environment Councils (CRE) for the 7 economic regions and the Provincial Environmental Councils (CPE) which constitute concertation fora with representation from the administrative department s concerned, the local communities, the associations and the users. The National Environment Observatory of Morocco (ONEM) was established in 1994, as a reliable took for information and decision support for planning. That same year, a Biodiversity and Desertification Unit (CBD) was created within ONEM. Its mission is to ensure the coordination between the ministerial department s and institutions concerned with biodiversity, desertification and climate change and to elaborate policies, strategies and action plans regarding the conservation and protection of the natural environment and biodiversity. In this regard, as a point focal, it ensures the follow-up on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and related conventions, such as the CITES and Ramsar Conventions as well as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the Framework Convention on Climate change.

Also, a National Laboratory for the Study and Monitoring of Pollution and Nuisances was established as a technical and scientific reference instrument, in order to ensure the continuous monitoring and control of the various forms of pollution and environmental nuisances.


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Palestinian Project Document

The Project Document is available in french

Moroccan Project Document
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