Within the EU directives and under the umbrella of EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020, wetland ecosystems are of major importance for wild fauna and flora and host a range of habitats and species of Community interest. By their function as stepping stones or corridors they are essential for migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species. As such they have to be conserved as key landscape features for enhancing the coherence, connectivity and resilience of the broader protected area network. Within the Water Framework Directive, the importance of rivers and wetlands for functioning of the habitat network is stressed and within climate change adaptation policy wetland restoration is fronting as nature based solutions.

Balkan Mediterranean territory is full of lake complexes, riverine systems, inland and coastal wetlands of high conservation value. Despite their importance, knowledge on Balkan Mediterranean wetlands is scattered and incomplete to support their protection and conservation. Therefore, the WetMainAreas project implementation articulates around two poles – knowledge improvement and scientific knowledge uptake into policy.

Through the help of Sentinels 2 images integration, analysis of new maps and in-situ measurements a comprehensive and updated picture of wetlands over the BalkanMed territory is provided as key information source for sustainable management and monitoring of wetlands, for their long-term protection and for improved understanding of their threats. Assessment on wetland connectivity and experience exchange on nature conservation issues such as integration of wetland ecosystems in protected areas and on promotion of the regions’ wetlands’ natural and cultural heritage are the key instruments for improving management, conservation and development.

The project encourages partnerships and networking among all relevant actors: public institutions, NGOs, civil society, etc. and shares all project findings to the general public – web database, uploads GIS layers in portals, spatial data infrastructure, 8 national events and a final conference, a living lab workshop for interaction amongst policy makers, produces e-guides, and 6 policy/action plan e-publications.