Maristanis: an integrated coastal and wetlands management

Andrea Liverani
Published: 01 August 2022
Last edited: 01 August 2022
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The proposed intervention is part of a complex project, Maristanis, funded by the Mava Foundation and coordinated by the MEDSEA Foundation. Maristanis developed activities regarding governance, water quality and saving, restoration (sea and land-based) and agriculture and fishing involvement. In the governance framework, the project focussed on creating an integrated management model offering a long-term management strategy for the coastal wetlands found in the Gulf of Oristano – a new regional park. It contributed to balancing social and environmental needs and paved the way to recognise the economic and cultural potential of the wetlands. As the implementation of the intervention was still underway, a self-assessment using the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutionsᵀᴹ was carried out. It was used to identify entry points to strengthen the intervention under the umbrella of Nature-based Solutions.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Salt marsh
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Coastal and marine spatial management
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Fisheries and aquaculture
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Invasive alien species
Legal & policy frameworks
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Wildlife Health Surveillance (to capture biodiversity, health, disease, and pathogen surveillance)
Species Monitoring and Research
Invasive Species Management/Removal
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through government
(I)NDC Submission


Oristano, Oristano, Italy
Show on Protected Planet


Overexploitation, land-use changes, hydrological alterations, pollution and anthropogenic pressures pose risks to ecosystem health and biodiversity as well as the economic, social and cultural benefits derived from the wetland ecosystems. The coastal area of the Gulf of Oristano includes six Ramsar sites, 19 Natura 2000 sites in 11 municipalities and one Marine Protected Area across approx. 7,700 ha along 140 km of coastline.

The presence of 11 Municipalities determines some failures in wetlands management. The presence of a single authority devoted to wetlands management (a Regional Park) would guarantee a greater commitment also in the search for regular funds and consequently better planning of activities in the medium and long term. The main economic activities in the region include artisanal fishing, agriculture and tourism, which have often different needs and perceptions of the wetlands. 


Fisheries and farming associations, territorial authorities, local companies, fishermen, farmers, tourism operators

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks highlight a number of key insights that emerged from the assessment of the integrated coastal and wetlands management intervention in the Gulf of Oristano.

Strong analysis and data collection carried out over the five years of the project provided the basis for interlinking all the activities developed in the project and emphasised in the Building Blocks.

This activity facilitated and made efficient the work of the Coastal Contract Technical Secretariat, which accompanied the municipalities in the administrative and technical procedures of defining the strategic objectives and actions of the Coastal Wetland Contract.

Finally, a wide-ranging process of involvement and awareness-raising of key actors in the area, agricultural sector, fishing, tourism, environmental associations, etc. accompanied the project in all its phases and activities, in particular during the definition of the Coastal Wetland Contract. Both individual and public meetings were used.



The main positive impact of the proposed and implemented governance model is to guarantee management and coordination between the several involved actors  (11 municipalities, the regional government, the water authority, more than 50 main economic companies, etc.),  The scope of the governance is to strengthen the conservation of coastal and marine habitats, reinforce resilience to climate change impacts and reduce water consumption, abstraction, pollution and contamination. More than 70 stakeholders participated in the 9 official meetings of the participation process presenting the Coastal Wetland Contract and the opportunities arising from the institution of a Regional Park.

Speaking instead of the more practical activities:

  • The area that has benefited from the restoration measures developed in the project is estimated at about 600 ha.
  • The new island for bird nesting has a surface of 110 square meters, a building with 143 cubic meters of mussels inside to 1100 jute sacks.
  • Precision agriculture measures were tested on more than 200 hectares, mainly with drones on maize and rice cultivation. Sub-irrigation technologies were tested on 9 hectares cultivated with (organic) artichokes and strawberries, and surface micro-irrigation on three carrot hectares. A precision agriculture project with satellites on 5000 hectares, mainly used to cultivate maize for feeding cattle, was developed.


“The Maristanis Contract can allow us to overcome a series of constraints related to the provisions on aid to businesses, especially those in the fishing sector, which more than any other is suffering because of climate change. The Coastal Contract may become a driving force for investments. The fishing sector needs it. There’s still a lot to be developed". Alessandro Porcu, technical director of the S. Andrew Fishermen's Cooperative.


"Our territory is characterized by its inability to transform resources into products. Travellers who visit the Gulf of Oristano complain about the absence of a system that makes environment, culture and tourism parts of the same system. We hope that the park will create these conditions in the shortest possible time". Maria Roberta Sanna, owner of the Mistral I and Mistral II hotels in Oristano.


"The creation of a park can also positively influence the approach to tourism, making it more aware of the extraordinary importance that the six Ramsar sites of Oristano represent in terms of wildlife". Gabriele Pinna, ornithologist and president of the LIPU of Oristano


"The creation of the park and an integrated governance is “desirable”. The Coastal Agreement is the place for discussion and synthesis that can simplify the bureaucratic processes, often a burden to the entrepreneurs' initiatives, especially when they want innovation to intercept the environmental need". Paolo Mele, president of Confagricoltura Sardegna.


"The contract provides us with a great tool, especially when it comes to bureaucratic simplification. Streamlining the dialogue between companies and institutions is of major importance. It is up to us, then, to take advantage of it and seize this great opportunity”. Andrea Liverani, Smart Geo Survey s.r.l. and local entrepreneur


"The Coastal Contract is with no doubt a useful tool to promote the area and contribute to local development. Being part of this group will allow us to propose paths and objectives that go in the direction of protecting nature and sustainable development”. Francesca Figus, marketing manager of Nieddittas, a leading mussels-farming company in the Gulf of Oristano.

Contributed by

francescaetzi_41831's picture

Francesca Etzi MEDSEA Foundation

Other contributors

Francesca Antonelli, Alessandra Pome', Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham
SCP/RAC expert contribution
Alessandro Miraglia and Magali Outters
SCP/RAC supervision and coordination