European Heritage under Threat: Biodiversity in Mediterranean Ecosystems (2002)

Recommendations of the meeting of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy held under the Spanish presidency of the EU Almeria, Spain 11th-13th May 2002, concerning: 




“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” Jean-Paul Sartre


To gain knowledge necessary to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, the participants of this meeting agreed that the following research action points have high priority:


  • 1. Better understanding of processes of biodiversity change and their effect on marine and terrestrial ecosystem function in the Mediterranean


  • 2. Better understanding of the large-scale dynamics of biodiversity including its relation to the functioning of ecosystems across succession stages


  • 3. Further knowledge about the connectedness, ecological context and the critical size of habitat fragments and the process and history of fragmentation


  • 4. Development and testing of scientific management and policy tools to control invasive species


  • 5. Development of an integrated strategy incorporating climate change scenarios and socioeconomic aspects for the management, restoration and the conservation of both terrestrial and marine Mediterranean ecosystems


  • 6. Strengthening and expanding taxonomic competence particularly in relation to conservation and use of biodiversity


  • 7. Providing online services and tools for the protection, conservation, sustainable use and management of marine and terrestrial biodiversity


  • 8. Developing appropriate methods for ecosystem restoration including both science communication and environmental education


  • 9. Better understanding on how policies are established and implemented.


To develop high quality and policy relevant research on these priority areas, particular attention should be paid to:


  • Guidelines and methods to optimise the design of networks of nature reserves, to manage conflicts over land and water use, and to preserve species, ecosystems and landscapes


  • Close co-operation of natural and social scientists, policymakers and stakeholders to conserve, restore and sustainably manage biodiversity in the Mediterranean


  • Valuation of ecological goods and services is one important means to translate ecological data into useful information for decision makers


  • The interaction between research and society, in particular science communication needs to be improved



The above research priorities stemmed in particular from the following considerations:


  • The Mediterranean Basin is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots of the Earth with exceptional concentrations of endemic species


  • The Mediterranean ecosystems show large spatial and temporal variability and interdependence whose sustainable management requires large-scale planning


  • The biodiversity of Mediterranean coastal habitats depends on the features and management of the coastal terrestrial belt and vice versa


  • Biodiversity in the Mediterranean is closely linked to human, social and cultural diversity


  • Mediterranean biodiversity faces pressure from anthropogenic sources, for example through tourism, agriculture, urbanisation, fire, overharvesting, pollution, habitat loss or fragmentation and the introduction and spread of non-indigenous species