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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MedWet Regions
Training course on "Designing a monitoring programme for Mediterranean wetlands"
Italy - Orbetello
Monday 24 November 2003, by Web Team

Monitoring a natural area is a key-factor for its management, and should ideally be conducted as part of a management plan. It provides site managers with a permanent "dashboard" of the natural heritage and external or internal factors that could affect it. It also helps them to critically evaluate the management that has been conducted and its results. If well designed, it is therefore a vital tool which allows the site manager to stay on the right course in terms of her/his management objectives.

However, too often, monitoring is perceived as simply collecting repeatedly standard data: some factors are monitored because other site managers are doing so too, or because some staff knows the right techniques for monitoring one particular aspect. But when it comes to analysing these data, often collected at a high cost in terms of human resources, frequently you find that in order to reach conclusions, another vital variable should have been measured, or that the frequency of measurement was not correct. In other words, the right question was not formulated at the outset.

This course is therefore intended for all those who are responsible for managing wetlands in a Mediterranean environment, with a view to reducing such failures.


For each trainee to benefit fully from the course, the prerequisites are the following:
- to have a practical (not just administrative) experience of wetland management, and be familiar with the overall wetland ecology ;
- to have conceived (or participated in) Monitoring programmes for wetlands (whether hydrology, biodiversity, human use; whether at site level or an regional/national level), or to be in a position of doing so in current job (especially within the MW/Regions Project)
- to speak either French, Spanish or Italian (simultaneous translation) ;

Course objectives

The course will enable trainees to design consistent monitoring programmes for the site they manage: namely, knowing how to clearly state the problems, hypotheses and aims of a monitoring programme, before starting to collect data. The methodology adopted is that developed during the first phase of the MedWet initiative in 1993-96 (Tomas-Vives et al., 1996).

This course will not aim mainly at providing information on the various practical monitoring techniques, which involve so many varied subject areas (hydrology, botany, invertebrates, fish and fisheries, ornithology, socio-economics, impacts of human activities, etc.) that each one would need a course of its own. However, given the importance of water monitoring activities planned by many sites involved in the MW/Regions Project, and the importance of the EU Water Framework Directive for wetland managers, which indirectly obliges to monitor whether one reaches the objectives set up by the Directive, specific methods/ techniques will be presented/ discussed on this topic, through exchange of experience between the participants.

Teaching methods

Besides lectures (that will be kept to a minimum), the course will put the emphasis on putting into practice the theoretical knowledge acquired by the trainees. They will design, analyse critically and interpret monitoring programmes based on a fictional case study, inspired from actual examples of various Mediterranean wetlands (the Camargue, Balearics, etc.).

PROVISIONAL course outline

• Monday, Nov. 24th
- Arrival in Rome airport, transfer to Orbetello area by bus (ARPAT)

• Tuesday, Nov. 25th - Morning
- Mutual introductions by the trainees
- Introduction : The importance of monitoring, definitions (surveillance/ monitoring), general monitoring frameworks...

• Tuesday, Nov. 25th - Afternoon
- Field visit : illustration & critical review of a monitoring/ surveillance programme in a nearby wetland, Orbetello Lagoon (authomatic monitoring equipment, algal removal...)

• Wedn, Nov. 26th - Morning
- Method for planning a monitoring programme: 1st stages
- The example of the WFD 60/2000: from a problem to clear objectives & hypothesis
- Group work : case study "Planning a monitoring programme": 1st session

• Wedn, Nov. 26th - Afternoon
- Group work : case study (cont’d)

• Thursday, Nov. 27th - Morning
- Method of planning monitoring (II): the other stages
- The FWD 60/2000 example : Indicators and methods
- Group work : case study : 2nd session

• Thursday, Nov. 27th - Afternoon
- Field visit & critical review of another example of a monitoring programme : Lake of Burano or Diaccia Botrona (both are Ramsar sites)
- Evening (1 hour) :Water Framework Directive Meeting 60/2000 (M. Cenni) (by invitation only)

• Friday, Nov. 28th - Morning
- The GIS, a powerful tool to record/ analyse monitoring data. Costs and benefits
- Illustration of a monitoring programme (video + comments) Afternoon

• Friday, Nov. 28th - Afternoon
- Group work : case study : 2nd session (cont’d)
- Evening : MW/R Monitoring Working Group meeting (M.Cenni)

• Sat., Nov. 29th - Morning - Presentation of an integrated monitoring programme : the Camargue Observatory
- Presentation of group work results on the case study

• Sat., Nov. 29th - Afternoon
- Discussion : Changing a surveillance into a true monitoring programme ; how do delegate monitoring ; examples from participants experience...
- Course assessment

• Sunday, Nov. 30th
- Departure by bus to Rome airport


The course will be held in the little town of Orbetello (Province of Grosseto) and participants will be accommodated at Hotel "I Presidi" (3 stars, unofficially 4 stars), a medium sized hotel (50 rooms of very good quality) overlooking the Orbetello Lagoon (Eastern Lagoon, South side of the Orbetello peninsula, Ramsar site). The meeting hall (Training room) is inside the hotel and is adequately equiped to contain all the group. More information and sights on the website. Meals will be at the participant’s discretion, the venue being in the centre of Orbetello, with many restaurants of all kinds. ARPAT and Tuscany Region will negotiate the price at selected restaurants.

Transport to/ from Rome airport will be organized by courtesy of ARPAT (Tuscany region) by bus. It is important that you inform Mario Cenni about the timing of landing of your flights to arrange properly the bus from Rome to Orbetello. There will be only one trip, at an adequate timing in the evening to collect everybody, because the distance is around 140 km. If any difficulties are encountered we can arrange different solutions by train.

Contact : Mrs Maria-Antonia Diaz, Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles France Fax : ++33 (0) 4 90 97 20 19, Email :
-  Candidates who have been selected will be informed directly, about 4 weeks before the course. The provisional programme will be enclosed

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