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EcoSUSTAIN newsletter

Ecological sustainable Governance of Mediterranean protected Areas via improved Scientific, Technical and Managerial Knowledge Base

Protecting biodiversity is crucial to ensure the resilience of the whole Mediterranean, which is facing unprecedented threats and whose resources are depleted by irresponsible practices. While the Mediterranean is a Biodiversity hotspot known for its high rates of endemism, the increasing pressures associated to a growing population are threatening the unique species and habitats that conform the region.

The underestimation of these growing threats on Mediterranean ecosystems linked to unsustainable management mechanisms and slow response instruments calls for better coordinated actions.

Interreg MED Programme deals with European territorial cooperation for the improvement in environment, infrastructures, culture and other sectors/areas. The Mediterranean environment has many peculiarities in relation with soil, terrain relief, climate, and natural resources. The main objective of EcoSUSTAIN project is to improve monitoring, management and networking of protected areas and Nature Parks. In fact, the project through scientific, technical and management knowledge wants to tackle the problem of incoherent and segregated management of protected areas as self-sustained units. Management and networking of protected areas could be improved by capacity building activities and pilot implementation of innovative water quality monitoring solutions in several protected wetland locations across the MED Programme area. Water quality monitoring could be improved by means of state-of-the-art ICT technology providing live, early warning messages directly from a sensor-equipped buoy, or by means of long-term monitoring based on satellite imagery processing.

The EcoSUSTAIN project team meetings

Meet our project team consisting of 10 project partners from 5 countries

EcoSUSTAIN partnership includes ten partners from five countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Spain). The project lead partner is University of Rijeka, Faculty of Maritime studies. 

Project is being implemented in 5 Mediterranean countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Spain), where project activities will be implemented during 30 month of project duration until 2019.

Project pilot implementation activities will take part in five Protected areas: Mincio River Regional Park (IT), La Albufera Natural Park (ES), National park Una (BA) and National park Krka (HR) and Ecodevelopment area Karla-Mavrovouni-Kefalovriso-Velestino (GR).
Since beginning of the project implementation the project team held 3 project meetings in Rijeka, Bihać, and Athens. One Study visit has been held in Bihac in the National park Una and the forthcoming events are planned in May 2018 in Šibenik in National park Krka where a Study visit  and Exchange visits will be held. 

Water Quality Management System Technology

Water quality monitoring will be improved by means of state-of-the-art ICT providing live, early warning messages directly from a sensor-equipped buoy or by means of long-term monitoring based on satellite imagery processing.
Short-term monitoring solution (STMS) will provide live water quality monitoring by collecting data (e.g. pH, Ammonium, Blue-green Algae, Phycoerythrin, Chloride etc.) from sensor-equipped buoys in the water, processing data and notifying relevant recipient by push/pull notification via software and GUI for data visualization and configuration/e-mail /SMS etc.
Long-term (LTMS) monitoring solution will include development of methodology and integrated solution for satellite monitoring of environmental indicators via Earth Observation techniques and relevant satellite imagery processing / classification and elaboration on the meta-information presented on the client GUI (graphical user interface).

The Case of La Albufera Protected Area 

To propose a useful strategy in the management of Natural Areas, a survey has been elaborated including questions such as organization, legal and administrative frameworks, financing mechanisms, education and training, methodology of testing and monitoring implementation of regulations, identification of existing water quality monitoring systems and monitoring protocols, identification of their networking and harmonization activities, involvement of local communities, NGOs, cooperation with national, regional and local authorities, cooperation/support of scientific activities at the respective protected area.

One of the five pilot areas is La Albufera, an important stopover point for migratory birds and a nesting area for resident birds. The natural life of the lake has to coexist with a big agriculture pressure (rice fields), fishing, hunting and tourism as ones of first activities developed in the Natural Park.
To improve the water quality different systems have been built in the lake surroundings as WWTP, Rainwater tanks, Wastewater collectors and Constructed Wetlands (CW) (Green filters).

The importance of transferring and spreading the knowledge within EcoSUSTAIN Partnership and beyond

Dear Readers,

There are many reasons for knowledge transfer and information dissemination, especially for a transnational project. What we do and what we achieve has to be shared to increase the value of our project. Sharing among us and with you is one of our implicit goals behind which awareness, collaboration, knowledge, technology transfer and development of expertise stand all together.
ALOT’s team leads the transferability activities to exchange the experience and knowledge between EcoSUSTAIN partners first, and widespread the know-how outside the project’s partnership for the future replicability of water quality management in the Mediterranean northern sea basin regions.In fact ALOT designed several activities such as study visits, staff exchanges and technical joint seminars with perspective of knowledge transferring.
UNA National Park outset the transfer with the first study visit of the series in Bihać on 30th May 2017. Structured per thematic segment, such as biodiversity protection, water management and monitoring, etc., the study visit aims to outline technical features of the pilot sites and to provide information and support to better exploit the pilot implementation. During the one-day study visit National Park UNA took partners throughout Štrbački buk, Orašac and Martin Brod, parts of the stunning national park that is one of the project’s pilot sites and will deliver results on water quality monitoring to be handed out to Mediterranean National Parks.
The staff exchanges are all focused on “learning by doing” where partners will be coached on water monitoring operations and technologies on site. Whereas technical joint seminars will create the conditions to share the project’s expertise to a wider audience, with particular attention to stakeholders related to governance of Mediterranean protected areas, and to verify the quality of outcomes, adaptation, direct applicability and future viability.
The first public technical joint event for knowledge diffusion is foreseen in November 2017 in Athens and will be organized by the Greek partners, ARATOS Technologies and Democritus University of Thrace, meanwhile the schedule for the staff exchange is under definition by the partnership.
Beside the above described interactions, the partnership, lead by ALOT, will deliver the EcoSUSTAIN body of knowledge: a collection of lessons learnt and field experiences, the impact assessment of the pilot actions on medium and long term water quality monitoring implemented by Croatian, Bosnian, Italian and Spanish National Parks, and a common strategy for transferability, the so-called “European Operational Concept”. 
For Institutions, National Parks or any other stakeholder in the sector of Water Quality Monitoring and Management, interested in having more information on how to take part to events open to wider public, please contact ALOT’s team at

Krka River

One of the 3 protected areas within the EcoSUSTAIN project is the National park Krka in Croatia.

Krka was proclaimed a National park in 1985. The National park is located in Šibenik-Knin County in its entirety and covers the area of 109 km2. The Krka river is 72,5 km long with its flow mostly running through canyons and embankments. It created 7 travertine falls and calm lakes like parts of the flow. The Krka River has 7 waterfalls along the stream. The biggest waterfall is Manojlovački slapovi that is 59,6 meters high, but the longest travertine waterfall in Europe is Skradinski buk with 17 travertine ladders and is the last waterfall before the Krka confluence into the sea.

The preservation and protection of ecosystem of the Krka river is the priority and permanent task of the Park as the institution responsible for the protection of the respected area. 
Krka National Park is considered as an experienced management authority since it functions for many years, works on a management plan since 2006 and the area is a National Park for more than twenty (20) years. Near the park, hydropower plants function and large cities, recently connected to WWTPs, are found. In the concept of sustainable development and rational management, monitoring of physicochemical and ecological characteristics, of hydrological regimes of water and hydroelectric power plants, and of water (surface and underground), habitat, flora and fauna is in accordance with the legislation. 
The overall aim of the monitoring within the EcoSUSTAIN project is the intensity of eutrophication processes control, the surveillance type of monitoring according to WFD, and several parameters control since a part of the NP is characterized as Natura site. In more details, the particular aims is the assessment of pressure from human activities, the assessment of pressure from morphological alterations, the water quality control either from agricultural washoff and for agricultural use, and for fish-life protection.


Building a Knowledge Base

"Κnowledge is power" is a quote attributed to sir Francis Bacon before 1600. For Ecosustain i.e. “Ecological sustainable Governance of Mediterranean protected Areas via improved Scientific, Technical and Managerial Knowledge Base” this saying goes beyond the obvious. Rapid environmental changes and urgent calls for sustainable management practices mean the best knowledge possible is needed to inform decisions, policies, and practices to protect biodiversity and sustainably manage vulnerable natural resources. Reed et al. (2013) define knowledge management as the “process of generating, storing and circulating new knowledge and identifying, bringing together and applying existing knowledge to achieve a specific objective”. Knowledge of all possible connections between human, water and biota, pressures, stressors and possible threats in water management can be perceived as synonym for best management. Having a complete knowledge base extending on all aforementioned areas is fundamental for minimizing mistakes in strategic plan design. It is of primer importance since usually policy makers, managers, and stakeholders often rely on experiential, tacit, and informal knowledge rather than scientific knowledge in formulating their opinions and in their decision making (Nguyen et al., 2017). Protected area management effectiveness is described within IUCN best practice as comprising six elements within the management cycle: context, planning, inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes (Hockings et al., 2006; Hermoso et al., 2015). The way to obtain this kind of knowledge is the proper monitoring program. The main objective of EcoSUSTAIN project is to improve monitoring, management and networking of protected areas and Nature Parks in order to build a complete knowledge base.