Southern European Lagoon Observational Networks:
Creation of networks in Greece and the Iberian Peninsular

1 Observational Networks

Southern European Lagoons are increasingly recognised as representing a highly diversified series of ecosystems ranging over the whole arc of the Mediterranean. They also are often systems of important economic value to local and regional communities, and as such are often strongly impacted by anthropogenic pressures. There is considerable scientific interest in understanding the ecological functioning of lagoons and the external pressures such as agriculture, industrial, tourism and aquaculture etc. The recent international conference on Southern European Coastal Lagoons: The influence of River-Basin coastal Zone Interactions, Ferrara, Italy, 10-12 Nov 2003, highlighted some of the information gaps that still need addressing.

2 Objectives

The following proposal, arising from the discussions during the symposium, has been made: to consider the setting up of a series of regional/national networks to support and encourage co-operation research groups.

The objective of these regional/national networks would be the following:
i. To provide a forum for discussion and co-operation between research groups who are studying biogeochemical and ecology processes in lagoons, wetlands and salt marshes in the southern European area.
ii. To evaluate available information and present understanding of biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous flows in transitional and coastal waters under the influence of catchment basins.
iii. Promote an agreed common approach to studies of biogeochemical and ecological processes that can provide support to management and policy applications (e.g. EU Water Framework Directive etc.)
iv. Discuss the feasibility of providing scientific products to IGBP programmes and other regional and global monitoring/observation systems.
v. Consider the feasibility of one or more projects in collaboration with similar networks in southern Europe such as LaguNet (Italy), PNEC (France), and DITTY (EU project).

3 Rational

The development of regional/national (informal) networks would allow a more focused response to major policy and science needs such as the implementation of the EU Framework Water Directive or the assessment of the impact of coastal lagoon ecosystems to local, regional and global anthropogenic pressures (e.g. LOICZ programme).

The choice of proposing a number of regional/national networks in the Mediterranean arc is a pragmatic way of focussing regional scientific and management interests at an effective scale, and allows collaboration between different regional/national networks to develop as mutual interests and concerns are identified.

That such networks (over 20 lagoon sites) can effectively be developed can be seen through the examples of the French (PNEC) and Italian (LaguNet, networks, and which are making a significant scientific contribution in the understanding of many aspects of river-basin coastal lagoon functioning. It is clear that a wider geographical coverage is needed coverin the southern European arc.

4 Actions

A set of informal meeting could be held with groups already working on coastal lagoons, to discuss the interest and feasibility of setting up- such networks in Greece and the Iberian peninsular (Portugal-Spain) paralleling those existing in Italy and France.

A further point for discussion would be the form of the links to be developed with the other regional/national networks, and the objectives to be identified. As a longer term step the feasibility of joining-collaborating with EU Network of Excellence (NE) should be considered and potential NE identified.