SWOS tools and products supporting the Spanish Wetland Committee

The Ramsar Convention asked the Member States from the very beginning to set up national wetland committees to set the national framework to apply and disseminate the philosophy of the protection and wise use of wetlands. Spain was one of the first countries to comply with this request, setting up the Wetland Committee in 1994. It is constituted of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food, and Environment (MAPAMA) in addition to all the Autonomous Communities in Spain (based on Real Decreto 1424/2008). Since the conservation and management of wetlands as well as the elaboration of wetland inventories is Communities’ competence, the Wetland Committee aims at coordinating these efforts and ensuring that they align with the Ramsar Convention.

The Spanish Wetland Inventory is a central piece of the Committee’s coordination work. The inventory aims at ensuring the best knowledge of the state and location of wetlands in Spain, based on Real Decreto 435/2004. Due to the decentralization of competences, it is the Communities’ responsibility to provide the regional inventories to the Ministry.

The 23rd meeting of the National Committee of wetland took place at the Natural Park of Albufera (Valencia), on the 19-20 of January 2017. The MAPAMA as coordinator of the committee invited the ETC-UMA to present the SWOS project in this meeting to identify the most useful products developed by the project that would serve as a support to the ongoing national process of the Spanish inventory of wetlands.

ETC-UMA presented the aims of SWOS in addition to the tools, methods, products, and platform that the project is developing. In addition, it focused the discussion on identifying together with the members of the committee the main products and tools of SWOS that would support the Spanish Service Case of SWOS based the identified needs.

Based on this discussion, the most useful products for the Spanish case of SWOS were the wetland delimitation guidelines, the potential wetland occurrence, and the water surface dynamics. The wetland delimitation was estimated by the committee as a main support product that could support the work under development of their regional inventories and allows their comparison and harmonisation.  On the other hand, the potential wetland occurrence product would be used as a proxy to develop a first layer of information identifying and locating wetlands in the different regions or Autonomic communities that still did not develop their inventories. Such proxy would then be validated by regional experts to build on this basis and improve the definition and delimitation of these wetlands.

Furthermore, several members of the committee were interested in a hands-on training on the use of the toolbox to help them develop these products, and access to this toolbox for their relative institutions.

ETC-UMA will follow on this meeting to shape the Spanish Service and start supporting this community of experts in the coming months.

By Dania Abdul Malak and Christoph Schröder, ETC-UMA