The theme of the 2021 edition of World Wetlands Day (2 February) is “Wetlands and water”. It is an occasion to ponder the crucial role of Mediterranean wetlands.

Wetlands provide numerous ecosystem services that include the purification of water, the mitigation of floods and droughts, groundwater replenishment, sediment retention and carbon sequestration. Within Mediterranean ecosystems, wetlands are particularly important for biodiversity. Although they occupy approximately 2 per cent of the land area, they are home to more than 30 per cent of the basin’s vertebrate species. It is estimated that there are twice as many endangered species in wetlands than in all Mediterranean ecosystems combined.

The State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean (SoED) indicates that the basin hosts up to 26 million hectares of wetlands. According to a broad sample of 400 wetland sites, 48 per cent of natural wetland habitats were lost between 1970 and 2013. The degradation is mainly caused by human activities such as dam building or drainage. A study quoted in SoED revealed that, in a sample of five Mediterranean coastal watersheds, wetlands lost 20 per cent of the capacity to mitigate the impacts of floods, mainly due to the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural and urban zones, and intense development of human activities in areas prone to flooding.

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published on 2021/04/15 15:11:09 GMT+0 last modified 2021-04-15T15:11:09+00:00