[PONDERFUL] Ponderful workshop “Costs and Benefits of the Conservation of the Pletera marsh”

Last Friday, November 4, we held the workshop “Costs and Benefits of the Conservation of the la Pletera salt marsh” in l’Estartit with the participation of local actors and stakeholders from the Generalitat. The activity, which is included in the framework of the H2020 PONDERFUL project of which we are part, had a double objective:

– The validation of a policy analysis regarding the conservation and restoration of la Pletera salt marsh. The analysis have been developed by the University of Uppsala (Sweden) and supported by the UdG team associated with the European project.
– Secondly, to gather the perceptions of the participants (from local and Catalonian government, private sector, universities, civil society) on the current barriers and the enabling factors underlying conservation and restoration policies of wetlands and ponds.
The La Pletera case was the main subject of discussion throughout the day, but the discussion and conclusions included and were often referred to the whole wetland landscape of Catalonia.

The last part of the day was an interactive activity aimed at identifying how we can finance the maintenance and other necessary measures for keeping the quality of the Nature Contributions to People (NCP) provided by the salt marsh.

The main challenge pointed out in the long-term to La Pletera is how to deal with Climate Change impacts (sea level rise and intensification of flooding episodes). The response to these risks will be key to ensuring the continuity of such spaces. Another challenge is the maintenance of la Pletera´s visiting infrastructure, which serves as a place of leisure for many people throughout the year. The high flow of visitors during the summer, with a considerable increase in road traffic, generates impacts for the rural traffic during the agricultural harvesting in the nearby area and produces rubbish.

At la Pletera level, the conclusions pointed out the Life restoration project implemented in the salt marsh between 2014 and 2018 as a demo case for restoring other coastal ecosystems. The stakeholders identified a favourable political context, leadership, collaboration among stakeholders in different levels and the knowledge development by the UdG´s Chair of Mediterranean Coastal Ecosystems and the GRECO group, as paramount factors for the success of the Life Pletera project. For the future, the need for improving financing schemes for maintenance, developing better strategies to control traffic and misuse of the space by visitors, and creating space for natural adaptation of the saltmarsh were mentioned.

At the Catalonian level, the challenge is to further develop the institutional framework regarding conservation and ecological restoration. The evolution of the European environmental framework in the last 30 years was pointed out as a key enabling factor to overcome this challenge, once it fosters national and local framework development. As a current barrier, it was mentioned the lack of knowledge and experimentation for supporting planning and development of an ecological restoration policy. In this sense, projects on the ground, such as Life Pletera, and research projects, such as the Ponderful project, were acknowledged by many stakeholders as essential for providing information to policy-making decisions.

To conclude, the following day, in the same EMD room of the Estartit, a technical day took place during the morning in which the annual results on the state of conservation of the species of flora and fauna protected by the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter.

PONDERFUL has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 869296