Below are some examples of projects we fund in this region:
Fishing reserves in Spain (WWF-Spain)
Overfishing affects some 87% of EU fisheries and some 90% in the Mediterranean. Spanish national fisheries suffer from this massive chronic overfishing, specifically from lack of proper management in national waters, illegal fishing activities, and poor commercialisation. Overfishing is a root cause of the loss of biodiversity in the majority of marine ecosystems and MPAs.
Since 2003 WWF-Spain has been supporting the first fishing reserve in Spain: Os Miñarzos in Galicia. This reserve has become an international reference for participatory processes for coastal fisheries. There the fishermen use traditional knowledge and science to introduce change in fisheries practices. A local coastal community is showing that fishermen can implement their own sustainability strategies, ensure their livelihoods, and conserve healthy ecosystems through well planned co-management.
WWF wants to replicate the Galician experience in the Mediterranean and expects that by the end of 2017, 75 fisheries will be managed through fishing reserves or Ecosystem Based Management Plans (EBMP), and 10,000 fishermen will be involved in participatory and co-management processes to facilitate a real shift of the small-scale fisheries in Spain towards sustainable fishing. Work will be conducted in 12 artisanal communities with strong support from NGOs and other stakeholders, promoting ecosystem-based management but also rights-based management tools and schemes where appropriate.
The Olm (proteus anguinus) in Croatia (HYLA - Croatian Herpetological Society)
The Olm (Proteus anguinus) is a type of salamander, and one of the very few European vertebrates, apart from several species of fish and bats, that has adapted to life in caves. It is only found in Dinaric karst (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia) where it has become the unofficial symbol of the vast cave systems that span the entire Dinaric karst.
The Olm is more than just a mysterious underground creature; it is also an indicator of clean water and unspoiled subterranean wilderness. It is also present in the culture of the areas it inhabits, where legend has it that it is the larvae of the cave dragon. In all of the languages and dialects of the region where it is found, its name translates roughly as “human fish”, largely on account of its ghostly pale skin; thanks to that name it has also attracted sympathy among the general public. Despite its popularity, knowledge of the species’ ecology and biology is limited as the Olm is actually rarely seen in nature.
As the karst is a very porous system, anything that happens above ground directly impacts the habitats below. Being an amphibian, whose skin is highly permeable, and living in this system, the Olm and its habitat are highly endangered by above ground pollution and water regulation.
The current lack of knowledge about this species prevents any concrete conservation action from being undertaken. This project aims to improve knowledge of the species’ ecology, presence, and cultural references and explore their implications for effective conservation, for the sake of the Olm itself and, more importantly, for the conservation of its fragile karstic habitat.
Nature and Culture (Diverse Earth)
This project aims at supporting the existing ‘cultural conservation practices’ and the cultural values and value systems that underpin and inform them in the MediterraneanBasin.
Nature and culture are inextricably linked in the Mediterranean region. This continuous interaction has resulted in a rich and diverse heritage, ranging from unique biodiversity, to distinctive cultural identities and characteristic cultural landscapes.
The impact of human activity in the Basin has been continuous and dense, therefore it is impossible to understand any conservation practice (at local level) and/or take any management decision without having first understood the type and level of human interaction with natural resources in the present and in the past. Certain cultural values have yielded practices that have sustained human populations in the Mediterranean (as well as other parts of the world) over centuries, and sometimes millennia. In many of these areas, it was only relatively recently (within the last 200 years or less) that these practices have been discontinued, or at least mollified. Understanding how conservation works at a local level therefore requires a solid comprehension of the links between nature and culture.
In several Mediterranean sub-regions (e.g. North Africa and the Middle East), traditional ‘western’ conservation practices (State protected areas for example) may not always be appropriate or effective as they are based on a set of particular cultural values and understanding of nature. Therefore further investigation is required to understand how best to support and strengthen the existing cultural practices that contribute to conservation objectives.
Support for decision-making relating to Mediterranean natural areas and forests (AIFM – Association Internationale Forêts Méditerranéennes)
The aim of this project is to develop and guide a network for Mediterranean forest users, managers and conservationists in order to promote the forests’ sustainable management and protection of biodiversity.
The project is articulated around three pillars:
1. A better understanding by the stakeholders and those responsible for making political decisions pertaining to land use and management of heavily populated Mediterranean territories, of the presence, role, importance and unique characteristics of the Mediterranean forests and forested areas, as these require a radically different approach from forested areas in other eco-climates (tropical, boreal, continental, etc.).
2. Creating synergies between the different naturalistic approaches, land-use imperatives (rural development, protection against natural and manmade disasters, urban and tourist pressures), and socio-economic management imperatives of local communities (agri-forest-pastoral).
3. Responding to the increasing disinterest of new population groups (young people, new arrivals and visitors) for the natural Mediterranean areas which surround their living areas (towns, tourism and leisure infrastructure).