Slovenia completes Ramsar SGF project on wetland inventory
News from the SGF
Slovenia accomplished SGF 1997 project "Establishment of a National Wetland Inventory"
The project proposal has been submitted to the SGF 1997 cycle by the State Agency for Nature Protection of the Slovenian Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy, applying for 35,000 CHF as a co-financing to a state-supported action on wetland inventory. However, execution of activities has been assigned to the Slovenian Institute for Water Management in cooperation with three national NGOs (the Centre for Flora and Fauna Mapping, the Slovenian Dragonfly Society, and the Slovenian Herpetological Society) and the Slovenian Natural History Museum.
The overall aim of the project has been to establish a comprehensive wetland inventory and set up a system for collection of data and information on wetlands in the country and to prepare a unified approach for identification, data collection and mapping of wetlands that is compatible with wetland inventories at international level. For this purpose the Mediterranean wetland inventory methodology has been adopted and the MedWet Data Base software has been used for data storage and manipulation.
The main project objectives have been, first - collecting existing data on wetlands and identifying gaps in their coverage and knowledge on wetland characteristics and functions, second - adapting existing data to be compatible with the MedWet criteria for wetland inventories and set up and develop a database, third - defining criteria for consideration of wetlands in national and local planning documents and sectoral strategies, and last - disseminating the information.
The project activities have been run in three phases. During the first phase existing data has been collected, gaps in information have been identified, and a system for the Slovenian wetland inventory has been set up. The second phase has been dedicated to preliminary checking of results throughout Slovenia. This action has been justified by the need to test the adopted methodology using all wetland types, including specific karst wetlands in the west part of the country. The third phase resulted in uploaded information on the MedWet database. Work has been focused on preparing and filling the database, analyzing and supplementing the adopted method, i.e. application in particular conditions of Slovenia, and elaborating the final output - a full wetland inventory database set available on CD.
Results from the inventory, containing textual, graphic and database set parts, are presented at catchment and site levels. Information about the 32 catchments in Slovenia comprises data on geographic coordinates, elevation, surface, annual flow of rivers, meteorological data (annual rainfall), socio-geographic data (population and settlements). At site level general information includes geographic coordinates, site name, Ramsar wetland type, protection and IBA (Important Bird Area) status. Habitat mapping is a subject of another ongoing project. Inventory graphic data is presented on 1:250,000-scale map and individual sites are available in scale 1:25,000 (GIS utilized). Only site >0.15 ha are drawn as polygons, otherwise they are marked as dots. Data on flora and fauna has also been collected and incorporated into the database.
As a result 3,525 wetland sites throughout Slovenia have been identified of which only 1/3 exceed 0.15 ha. All those sites represent 1.74% of the territory of the country, and even including all the floodplains their total does not reach 5% of the country's territory. Another specific pattern is that human-made wetlands prevail over the natural ones (83% of all sites and 61% of total wetland area).
An additional output of the project is identification of seven more sites that meet Ramsar criteria. Research work has been launched to provide sufficient information for justification of the prospective new designations.
The inventory has been made available to the seven regional offices of the Nature Conservation Institute in order to assist on evaluation of wetlands important for biodiversity and include new sites, and to provide additional information on those sites that are of interest for biodiversity conservation. Synopsizes of inventory information have been used in elaboration of strategic policy documents. A comprehensive publication with the project outputs is envisaged in near future.
This project has provided the most complete information on Slovenian wetlands demonstrating more reliable figures of wetland areas and sites for the first time compiled within a common database. It provided a firm base for further development of the inventory database that is going to serve as a National Wetland Database providing first hand information to various users for sake of wetland conservation.
-- reported by Sergei Dereliev, Ramsar