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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MELMARINA Project : Monitoring and modelling coastal lagoons: making management tools for aquatic resources in North Africa
Thursday 12 February 2004, by Web Team

Melmarina project is a three year research project funded under the European Commission Framework Programme V (Confirming the International role of Community Research. SECTION A3 - INCO-MED. Sub-section A3d: Regional Environmental Sustainability - Integrated policy and resource management of coastal zones). The project started in November 2002. The overall aim of the project is to develop understanding of the functioning of coastal lagoons in North Africa and to develop tools to enhance the management of these important aquatic ecosystems.

Many North African coastal lagoons are severely degraded yet some remain high value aquatic ecosystems that are important as natural resources for local human populations and contribute substantially to regional biodiversity. North Africa’s lagoons are all impacted by a variety of environmental change processes but human activities have had the greatest effect during the 20th century. Pressures resulting from these activities are set to continue and in many cases increase through the 21st Century. Environmental monitoring within North Africa’s aquatic ecosystems is inadequate and management planning and policies are poorly supported by relevant scientific information. This proposal concerns the development of lagoonal ecosystem monitoring (by field survey, long-term monitoring through field instrumentation and remote sensing) and its integration within hydraulic/ecological modelling. It has several aims and objectives designed to help tackle current deficiencies.

General Objectives
- Development of early warning tools and decision support systems that examine with the environmental equilibria between the aquatic resources of specific coastal and inland lagoonal areas.
- Establish and evaluate long-term research on monitoring, measuring and modelling sustainable development in the coastal lagoonal areas.
- Assess and model the impact of human activities on water availability, distribution and quality.
- Promote communality in research methodology through information exchange and by instigating training programmes for young scientists within North African partner institutions in specialist areas of aquatic resource monitoring and modelling.
- Forge active links with other international and national bodies concerned with management of aquatic (especially lagoonal) resources and to exploit further the results of the project by widely disseminating results.

Specific Objectives

Water quality and freshwater availability are the principal factors regulating the quality of North African lagoonal systems. Within key sites in three North African countries (Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt) hydrological instrumentation will be installed and programmes of water quality and ecological monitoring initiated. The specific objectives are to:
- Implement an integrated monitoring programme at each key site to establish space-time changes in hydroecological characteristics over 15 months. Automated measurement and best practice procedures (from the EU Water Framework Directive) will be introduced. Verification criteria include AQC checks, databases with relevant data.
- Establish and monitor the extent of aquatic vegetation and water resources throughout each lagoon using remote sensing images calibrated by field surveys. Remote sensing data from the past two decades will be used for detecting long-term trends in hydroecological and topographic conditions (including estimates of historical water levels). Verification criteria: baselines for present and past vegetation and for open water areas.
- Use multivariate data analysis to identify environmental variables controlling aquatic vegetation characteristics. These results will be used to generate relationships between environmental controls and site vegetation characteristics. Verification criteria: identification of controlling variables and empirical relationships.
- Develop simulations for key lagoons using a state-of-the-art combined dynamic hydraulic/ecological model. The model will be extended using vegetational relationships to simulate vegetation change over time. Model simulations of future scenarios (concerned with eutrophication, sea level change and hydrologic manipulations) will be undertaken. Verification criteria: model simulations of present and future conditions.
- Make data and model simulations available to end-users, especially to national management agencies. A GIS database will be constructed to facilitate result presentation whilst simulation modelling will be refined though workshops and web site access. Training modules will be introduced through short courses at DHI - Water and Environment (DHIWE) and University College London (UCL) for young North African scientists associated with the project. Training in remote sensing applications to wetland and lagoon systems will be undertaken at NARSS in conjunction with staff from JRC (Ispra). Verification criteria: workshop proceedings, training seminars and a www site GIS database.

Source : MELMARINA Website

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