From river catchment areas to the sea:
Target systems of the project were sandy beaches, their ecosystems and the influencing systems, from the river basin to the transitional and marine coastal waters, namely the systems relevant for an integrated management of Mediterranean coastal zones.
A number of focus study sites were chosen of national and international interest, and at these sites, interdisciplinary research was conducted integrating socioeconomy, geography and ecology to provide understanding of the relationships relevant for a sustainable development and management of the areas (work package 1). Comparative data sets were collected within this project and from other related projects, to develop indicators and bioindicators of impacts and changes, at different integration levels, applicable on a wider scale in the Mediterranean (work package 2). These were tested at the study sites and tuned for use in monitoring programmes of management of coastal zones. Links between compartments and options for management were focused to develop tools for an integrated sustainable development and management of the Mediterranean coastal zones (work package 3). A dissemination of the results of the project as well as its overall rationale has been made at different levels: international (scientific conferences and web), national and regional (meetings with stakeholders and policy makers), local (meetings with environmental managers, stakeholders and informal contacts with the local populations) (work package 4).
The project also had an impact in the formation and education at different levels: high education, with the preparation of PhD and MSc theses and visits of students to partner laboratories; school education, with the organisation of didactic and education units focused on coastal environments; the formation of managers, with the organisation of an introductory course on modelling and focus seminars on integrated coastal management, and the preparation of formation material. The dissemination also included results and tools developed in a previous project, the MECO project (IC18-CT98-0270) focused on Mediterranean sandy beaches, in which most of the MEDCORE partners had also participated. A project outcome was the successful preparation and presentation of a new project WADI “Sustainable management of Mediterranean fresh and transitional water bodies: a socioeconomic and environmental analysis of changes and trends to enhance and sustain stakeholders benefits” (INCO-CT2005-015226) that represents a development of the MEDCORE experience to focus the research on the needs of local stakeholders, particularly the weak ones, and on the sustainablitiy of the benefits provided by water bodies in semi-arid coastal areas.
General objectives of the MEDCORE project were:
The definition of guidelines and ecological criteria for preservation of environmental quality through the identification of functional links between elements of coastal ecosystems and influencing zones in the Mediterranean. This objective was addressed by multidisciplinary research activities throughout the project, and by their integration at the study sites. The overall rationale that guided the research was to broaden the focus as much as possible beyond disciplinary specificity, to link fresh water, sea and land ecosystems, and integrate the needs of local population (development) and nature (protection).
The development of early warning indicators of degradation and long-term indicators of sustainability of coastal ecosystems. Indicators and bioindicators of impacts in coastal ecosystems were analysed and developed on different levels of integration: landscape, habitat diversity, communities, populations, and ecophysiology and behaviour of key species.
The preparation of a manual regarding the application of ecological indicators of coastal environment quality, to be proposed to environmental managers and decision-makers. The manual, in the form of a user friendly guide for practitioners, integrates results from this project and from other related projects focused on marine and estuarine coastal zones. The guide was prepared by the IMAR team and it is ready to print.