Freshwater biodiversity assessment and conservation priorities for the Mediterranean Hotspot

Our Mediterranean Hotspot project will provide resources that are essential for guiding decisions on the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater biodiversity in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot. The project will first build on our recent assessements in the region by filling the remaining gaps in information on freshwater biodiversity in the eastern and northern Mediterranean region and will use this information, combined with the results of previous biodiversity assessments, to identify and validate Key Biodiversity Areas as a focus for conservation action throughout the Hotspot.

This will be achieved by;
  1. Collating data on the distribution, abundance, ecology, and utilisation by humans, for several groups of species that are reliable indicators of the biological structure and functioning of freshwater ecosystems in the eastern and northern Mediterranean region.
  2. Evaluating the risk of extinction for these species according to the IUCN Red List Criteria
  3. Mapping geographic patterns of species richness, endemism, and existing or impending threats to the species
  4. Identifying and validating (through stakeholder consultations and workshops) freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas for the entire Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot region.
  5. Making the collated data and results for the analysis widely and freely available to conservation practitioners and developers alike via print publications, data DVD’s, and the internet.
The exceptional concentration of species found in the freshwaters of the Mediterranean region, coupled with the essential ecosystem services that are supplied to humanity by these freshwaters and their biodiversity, and the increasing threats to the ecosystems, indicate the importance and urgency of this project.
The project started in June 2012 and is funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), MAVA Foundation pour la Nature (MAVA), the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperation (AECID) and the BioFresh Project.

Project area for the Freshwater biodiversity assessment and conservation priorities for the Mediterranean Hotspot project



Eastern Mediterranean Assessment (2014)

The Eastern Mediterranean Assessment has been completed in 2014 and the report is now freely available here.

This work represents the most comprehensive assessment yet of freshwater biodiversity at the species level for this part of the world and provides an essential resource for guiding future decisions on the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater biodiversity in the Mediterranean Hotspot.
Aditionally, through this project freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas have been identified, mapped and validated. The associated report and data on the Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas in the Mediterranean Basin is now also available here.

The information presented in these reports is fundamental to meeting national obligations for protection and sustainable use of biodiversity under the Convention on Biological Diversity; the Ramsar Convention; and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In addition, the data and analysis presented here also provide an important contribution to help States implement the UN Watercourse Convention (UNWC), which came into force in August 2014, and aims to protect and maintain watercourses in their natural state.

Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas in
the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot

Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas in the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot

Through this project freshwater KBAs have now been identified, mapped and validated throughout much of the Mediterranean Hotspot.

It is now important to raise awareness of their status as validated freshwater KBAs and to develop plans for appropriate conservation actions at these sites.

One hundred and eighty-eight potential Site Champions have been identified by stakeholders as individuals/organizations best placed to raise awareness of the existence of the KBAs and the issues faced with respect to threats to biodiversity,
and to help implement the required actions to safeguard these globally important sites.

Specific recommendations for conservation actions are mainly focused on improving management of the hydrology of these KBAs, many of which are currently or potentially impacted by over-abstraction and diversion of water,
construction of dams, and drought. KBAs need to be managed to ensure Environmental Flows are sufficient to support these fragile freshwater ecosystems and they should be implemented as part of catchment-wide Integrated River Basin Management planning which takes account of the
wide range of uses of water across all sectors. There are also important knowledge gaps in site and basin-specific species distributions of many threatened species, and many countries do not yet have baseline inventories of their inland water ecosystems and species assemblages. It is very possible that many new KBAs will be discovered if these biodiversity inventories progress.

In conclusion, the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot is found to be globally important for its freshwater biodiversity. This biodiversity is highly threatened largely due to the conflicting demands upon a diminishing supply of fresh water which is further exacerbated by the increased severity of drought across the region. Unless the recommendations given above are followed and Site Champions are mobilized to raise awareness of these globally important freshwater KBAs, species will almost certainly be lost in the very near future.

Solutions are available but the willingness to adopt them has to be encouraged. Freshwater species are most often out of sight and out of mind so raising awareness of their presence, the threats they face, and the necessary conservation actions are fundamental to the persistence of freshwater biodiversity in the Mediterranean Hotspot.

Download the full Mediterranean Basin Hotspot KBA report HERE

Northern Mediterranean Assessment (2015)

The Northern Mediterranean Assessment (second part of the project) will start later this year (December 2015) thanks to the support of MAVA Foundation.

  • The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.
  • Mava logo
  • AECID logo
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  • Logo for Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
  • IUCN Med Office
Download the full Mediterranean KBA Report