Conservation of Posidonia Oceanica meadows in Andalusia coast

18 February 2012 | Project description

Proyecto LIFE + NATURALEZA (LIFE 09/NAT/ES/00534)



CONTEXT

Posidonia oceanica belongs to Posidoniaceae family, with just one gender (Posidonia). It is a superior plant that develops a system of roots, and this is the reason why it needs a substrate of sand or mud to take root. It has flowers and, hence, fruits and seeds. It blooms in autumn and its fruits usually appear on our beaches in May or June, usually known as “sea olives”. After sprouting, it produces a subterranean stem, called rhizome, from which roots emerge; and it also produces some short top stems from which emerge the long and narrow leaves. These leaves have little more than a centimeter wide and a length that can vary from some centimeters to a meter and a half. The rhizomes can constitute very long chains that can exceed many hundreds of meters long, as it occurs, for example, in some well-preserved areas of the Balearic Islands. It is through these rhizomes that the plant can also reproduce asexually can also reproduce as a plant by means of its rhizomes. Posidonia oceanica also needs a lot of light to live, which is the reason why it cannot be found beyond 100 meters deep.

Posidonia seagrasses have many important environmental functions: they facilitate the deposition of suspended particles as well as the transparency of water; stabilize marine sediments, attenuate hydrodynamism and coastal erosion; produce great quantities of oxygen and organic matter; and provide the critical habitat for reproduction, growth, nursery, feeding and shelter of many species.

Posidonia oceanica has a circum-Mediterranean distribution. The population distribution in Andalusia ismore concentrated on the eastern area of this region, from Almeria, where there are continuous populations, to Malaga, where populations form smal sites in some coastal areas.

Threats and protection status

Among its main threats are untreated sewage dump; sand extraction from seabeds; beach regeneration near Posidonia meadows; bottom trawling; yacht anchorage; competition with invasive species such as the Caulerpa taxifolia; and climate change.

At a European level, Posidonia Oceanica was included in Annex II of the Bern Convention as species of flora strictly protected. The Habitat Directive of the European Union (92/42 CEE of 21/05/1992) and its subsequent adaptation to technical and scientific progress through Directive 97/62/CE of 27/08/1997, include Posidonia Oceanica meadows as a priority conservation habitat in Annex 1, habitat 1120 within the European Union.

OBJECTIVES

Project LIFE 09/NAT/ES/00534 has the following objectives:

1. Increase the knowledge and the conservation of the marine biodiversity of Andalusia, including the implementation of protection measures to Posidonia meadows.

2. Identify the current conservation status of Posidonia seagrasses in Andalusia, and develop a set of indicators for its evaluation.

3. Emphasize the value of Posidonia seagrasses among the different productive sectors.

4. Identify, assess and mitigate the main threats to the ecosystem and its associated habitats (pollution, anchorage, uncontrolled trawling and illegal traditional fishing, and expansion of exotic invasive species).

5. Design of a Management Plan for these ecosystems in Andalusia.

6. Long-term monitoring; create Network of Volunteers

7. Involve to different social sectors to take parton the active management of those ecosystems.

IUCN-Med work

As a member of this project, the Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation is involved in the following activities:

• Organization of a Conference on Posidonia meadows and other marine phanerogam species in the Spanish territory. The objective of this Symposium is to bring together scientists, managers and other members to analyse the current knowledge of this ecosystem, particularly in the Andalusian coast, from an ecological, biological and economical perspective. This symposium will include conferences, seminars, round tables and workshops.

• Creation of a Technical Advisory Committee for Marine Phanerogams. The activities envisaged in this project require the creation of a Technical Advisory Committee of specialists in Posidonia meadows. This Committee will provide advice on activities, information and management.

• Organization of the Festival “Seas of Posidonia”, in towns along the coast region of Andalusia (Granada, Malaga and Almeria),  to promote the interest and the knowledge of this habitat, as well as to create sustainable tourism alternatives and cultural activities. The first edition of the Festival took place in Nerja (Malaga) in June 2011.

• Evaluation of the different PA with seagrasses in the Andalusian coast. The declaration of protected areas, though not the only one, is an essential step to protect marine phanerogam seagrasses.

RESULTS

The expected results after completion of the project are the following:

• Detailed cartography of the ecosystem to improve its management.

• Assessment on the current status of Posidonia and its evolution.

• An 80% decrease of threats caused by anchorage.

• A 100% decrease of threats caused by bottom trawling in 2 "Sites of Community Importance" (SCI)

• Passive monitoring, in order to identify breakings of environmental rules

• Development of a management plan for these ecosystems

• Extensive monitoring of seagrasses

• Increase social participation

• Increase awareness on the environmental and economic values of Posidonia meadows.

PARTNERS

Conservation of Posidonia Oceanica on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia is a project led by the regional ministry of Environment of Andalusia (Junta de Andalucía) , together with other seven beneficiary partners: the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservación, Información y Estudios sobre Cetáceos (CIRCE), Andalusian Federation of Fishermen Guilds, Andalusian Federation of Fishing Associations, the Agency of Agricultural and Fishing Management of Andalusia (AGAPA in Spanish), and the Agency of Environment and Water of Andalusia (AMA in Spanish).

DONORS

This project is financed by the Programme Life+ Nature Area of the EU.

GEOGRAPHICAL EXTENSION

LIFE+ POSIDONIA ANDALUSIA focuses its actions in Posidonia Oceanica existing in ten "Sites of Community Interest" in the Mediterranean (Seabeds of Estepona Bay, El Saladillo-Punta de Baños, Calahonda, Cliffs of Maro Cerro Gordo, Seabeds of Punta Entinas-Sabinar, Reefs of Roquetas de Mar, Cabo de Gata Nijar, Isle of San Andrés, and Seabeds of Eastern Almería).

BUDGET

The total budget of the project is 3.562.125 €, with a LIFE contribution of 2.474.902 €, that is the 69,48% of the total eligible. It will begin on 01/01/2011. Its ending is planned on 31/12/2013.

More information: mariadelmar.otero@iucn.org

IUCN-Med receives core financial support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) among others.


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