EcoSUSTAIN project Newsletter #4







EcoSUSTAIN project Newsletter #4

Since implementation of EcoSUSTAIN project will be finished on 30 April 2019, in this Newsletter we present results achieved. The most important activities implemented were The Pilot Actions.  The Pilot Actions even though implemented in regional and national parks have transnational characteristic and are guided by technical support from the EcoSUSTAIN partners RGO, DUTH and ARATOS. The main focus of all pilot actions was strengthening management of protected areas through 2 types of water quality monitoring solutions: (1) Short-term monitoring solution (STMS) and (2) Long-term monitoring solution (LTMS). Both of these solutions provide data on water quality to support decisions on protection and management.

The protected areas involved in the pilot activities are located in Spain, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece. 

DUTH's Article published in the Water Scientific Journal

Another achievement of EcoSUSTAIN project was accomplished in the thematic of dissemination with the scientific community. An article entitled “Addressing Gaps in Environmental Water Policy Issues across Five Mediterranean Freshwater Protected Areas” with doi:10.3390/w10121853 was successfully published by DUTH team and the support of all partners in Water Scientific Journal in December 2018.

The article is published as Open Access to facilitate the dissemination. More than 400 views and 150 downloads have been recorded since its publication by the Water website and 100 more by the team’s Research-gate profiles.

The abstract is presented here: “The increasing pressure on water resources in Europe’s broader area led member states to take measures and adopt a common legislative “umbrella” of directives to protect them. The aim of this research is to investigate practicing deficiencies, information lacks and distances from optimal status as set by the Water Framework Directive and supporting water uses. This contributes to the improvement of the efficiency and harmonization of all environmental goals especially when management of Protected Areas is addressed. Gap analysis, an approach that reveals the distance between current and desired level, was carried out, targeting five Mediterranean hydro-ecosystems, covering three major water policy pillars “Monitoring Practices”, “Management Practices” and “Water Quality and Pressures”. Data for such analyses was collected by literature research supported by a query matrix. The findings revealed a lack in compliance with the Water Framework Directive regarding the “Monitoring Practices” and several deficiencies in sites burdened by eutrophication and human pressures on “Water Quality and Pressures” field. As for “Management Practices”, extra effort should be applied in all hydro-ecosystems to reach the desirable state. We suggest that gap analysis, as a harmonization tool, can unify apparently different areas under the same goals to reveal the extra necessary “investment”.”

PILOT AREA (Natural Park): NR/SAC/SCI "Mincio Valleys", Regional Park of Mincio, Italy 

Pilot location: 4 buoys installed at:

  1. Superior Lake (Mantova)

  2. Medium lake (Mantova)

  3. Inferior lake (Mantova)

  4. Rivalta sul Mincio (Rodigo – MN)

Partner responsible for the pilot implementation: Regional Park of Mincio

Monitoring System Installation date: April 2018

Key stakeholders involved in the pilot implementation

  • Faculty of Natural Sciences of University of Parma

  • Regional Environmental Protection Agency (Office of Mantova)

  • Interregional PO river Agency

  • Local public authorities and interested groups (included NGO) involved by “Mincio river Contract”

Key results:

  • Obtain the first in-continuous system of principal water quality parameters’ monitoring;

  • Availability of data on-line.


  • Improved knowledge of the state of the water and therefore of the ecosystem;

  • Improved management of the protected area;

  • Starting point for the creation of an alert system in case of criticalities in the ecosystem;

  • Have a rich database for scientific research (to share with the key stakeholders);

  • Understand the behaviour of the ecosystem and its variations along the river;

  • Knowledge base for developing new projects related to water management;

  • Enhanced citizens awareness of the state of the water, often better than what they expect.


PILOT AREA (National Park): L'Albufera Natural Park, Spain
Pilot location: Tancat de la Pipa (constructed wetland)

Partner responsible for the pilot implementation: Fundación Global Nature

Monitoring System Installation date: May 2018

End of pilot: April 2019

Key stakeholders involved in the pilot implementation

  • Albufera Natural Park Authority, responsible to authorise the installation of the buoy;

  • Júcar River Basin Authority, as the owner of Tancat de la Pipa;

  • SEO-BirdLife and AE-Agró as two NGOs involved in the Tancat de la Pipa management;

  • Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA) of the Technical University involved in the analysis of buoy data.

Key results and benefits

  • First in-continuous series of several water quality parameters;

  • Availability of a huge amount of data, impossible to obtain through field sampling, very useful for research;

  • Improved knowledge of the state of the water and therefore of the ecosystem;

  • Improved capacity to liaise with key stakeholders, in particular on the need for more water input;

  • Better capacity to influence policies for the lake protection;


PILOT AREA (National Park):  Krka National Park, Croatia

Pilot location: Lake Visovac, Krka National park

Partner responsible for the pilot implementation: Krka National park

Monitoring System Installation date: May 2018

End of pilot: April 2019

Key stakeholders involved in the pilot implementation

  • Department of Water Protection, travertine barriers and biodiversity NP “Krka”;

  • Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy;

  • The City of Skradin - a local community along the lakeshore;

  • Department of Public Health of Šibenik-Knin County;

  • Croatian Waters, a legal entity for water management;

  • Faculty of Science of the University of Zagreb.

Key results and benefits

  • First in-continuous series of several water quality parameters;

  • Real time data detection and alert system, allowing quick intervention;

  • Improved monitoring capacity, tracking changes of main ecological factors;

  • Data obtained will enhance the management of the lake system, the Park’s planning activities and the development of new water related projects;

  • Enhanced shared knowledge across stakeholders;

  • Enhanced cooperation with key stakeholders (universities, other authorities);

  • Increased communication capacity and acceptance by the local community.



PILOT AREA (National Park): Una National Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pilot location: Ćelije, Una River, UNA National park

Partner responsible for the pilot implementation: Una National park

Monitoring System Installation date: August 2018

End of pilot: April 2019

Key stakeholders involved in the pilot implementation

  • Ministry of environment and tourism of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Sava River Basin Agency

  • Public health agency od Una Sana canton

  • City of Bihać

  • Institute for agriculture of Una Sana canton

  • Faculty of Science of the University of Sarajevo

  • Faculty of Biotechnical Sciences of the University of Bihac

Key results and benefits

  • First in-continuous series of several water quality parameters;

  • Real time data detection and alert system, allowing quick intervention;

  • Enhanced shared knowledge: data are very useful for several stakeholders (Ministry of environment and tourism, Public health agency, Universities);

  • Enhanced relationships with key stakeholders;

  • Improving Management planning and project development;

  • Useful tool to monitor the impact of development activities, such as the influence of agriculture and urbanization on water quality;

  • Improved communication and acceptance by the local community.


PILOT AREA (National Park): Ecodevelopment Area of Karla-Mavrovouni-Kefalovriso-Valestino

Pilot location: Lake Karla

Partner responsible for the pilot implementation: Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH)

Monitoring System Installation date: October 2018

End of pilot: April 2019

Key stakeholders involved in the pilot implementation

  • Water Administration of Thessaly, Decentralized Administration of Thessaly -  Central Greece

  • Department of Environment and Hydro-Economy of Magnesia, Administration of Environment and Regional Planning, Administration of Thessaly Region

  • Administration of Technical Works, Administration of Thessaly Region

  • Ministry of Environment and Energy

  • Municipal Water and Sewerage Company of Larissa

  • Geotechnical Chamber of Central Greece

  • Technical Chamber of Magnesia

  • Municipalities of Agia, Rigas Fereos, Kileler

  • Institute of Soil Mapping And Classification, National Agricultural Research Foundation

  • Local Authority of Land Reclamation of Lake Karla

  • Local Authority of Land Reclamation Pinios River

  • National Centre of Biotopes

  • University of Volos, Department of Civil Engineering and Department of Civil Engineering

  • Management Body of Ecodevelopment Area of Karla-Mavrovouni-Kefalovriso-Velestino

Key results and benefits

  • It provides a quick visualization of the status of the entire lake on selected parameters;

  • It can detect possible “sensitive areas” and areas where the lake’s inflows are subject to point and diffuse sources of pollution;

  • It can provide a depiction of annual trend for water quality related parameters;

  • It can assist the evaluation of hydrological modification designed in favour of the waterbody;

  • Visualisation of monitoring results and the nature of the outcome (picture) is an effective tool to communicate with the public

  • It can possibly assist in cost and time reduction for samplings;



















    Final words: Successfully implemented project 

    The pilot implementation of the EcoSUSTAIN project in five protected areas can be considered successful, since all Parks are satisfied with the results and also the stakeholders involved in water management across these regions.

    Key recommendation and lesson learnt emerging from the pilots is to involve all relevant stakeholders since the early stages of similar projects or initiatives, including scientists and institutions whose area of interest is water quality monitoring, especially in protected areas. They can provide useful knowledge and advice, but also data comparison and integration, as well as synergies in projects implementation, further strengthening relationship and potential for collaboration. Communication and involvement of the local communities living in or around the park is also crucial, in order to improve acceptability, awareness of good water quality importance and cooperation.


    Acknowledgments and Final Remarks from the EcoSUSTAIN project team

    Loss of biodiversity and degradation of the ecosystems is what brought us, the biodiversity protection community together and therefore we believe that all our projects are contributing to positive changes. 

    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.

    Therefore, in name of the EcoSUSTAIN project team we would like to thank to the Interreg MED Programme which 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. We hope that the main objectives of our EcoSUSTAIN project to improve monitoring, management and networking of protected areas and Nature Parks have been achieved to a certain point. The management and networking of protected areas have been improved by capacity building activities and pilot implementation of innovative water quality monitoring solutions in 5 protected wetland locations.  Water quality monitoring has been improved by using the ICT technology providing live, early warning messages directly from a sensor-equipped buoy, and to a certain level by means of long-term monitoring based on satellite imagery processing.

    Also, we would like to thank to the PANACeA, whose proud member the EcoSUSTAIN project is. PANACeA aimed ensuring synergies between relevant Mediterranean stakeholders –including managers, policymakers, socio-economic actors, civil society and the scientific community, and to increase the visibility and impacts of our projects’ results towards common identified strategical targets. One of the most important thing the PANACeA team did was enabling us to network and learn from each other though multistakeholders cooperation. 

    Finally, we appreciate the opportunity to learn and share knowledge, networking and make new partnerships which in the future might results with new project but the same aim to contribute to the biodiversity protection and to positive changes.