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Integrated Multiple Level Wetlands Monitoring System Using Innovative Technologies (WETMUST)
Start date: May 31, 2006, End date: Apr 29, 2008 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Wetlands constitute transitional, dynamic ecosystems of great importance, which are threatened by human activities. Due to their nature, they are frequently located next to or downstream from major urban, agricultural and industrial development sites. As a result of these driving forces, several pressures act on the wetland ecosystems with a severe impact on their state. A major problem that needs to be addressed is that despite the various laws, directives and other schemes employed for wetland protection, managers and planners often lack the required information. Satellite remote sensing is used for monitoring wetland parameters and computing spatiotemporal indicators. However, such images have relatively low resolution and are often degraded by atmospheric disturbances, resulting in low-reliability indicators. Furthermore, they cannot monitor all variables of interest, e.g. biophysical indicators. Hence, information extracted from them does not suffice and cannot be relied upon, unless field-collected ground-truth data is frequently obtained. Due to the delicate ecological nature of the wetlands, and the fact that they are frequently inaccessible, such data is costly, difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain. The main objective of the project WETMUST is to develop and evaluate an innovative multi-resolution monitoring system for wetlands of international importance. Three levels of monitoring will be integrated: large scale satellite remote sensing, low altitude imagery from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and field measurements collected continuously via telemetry by a sensor network. After deployment, field visits will still be required, but their frequency will be minimized. The monitoring system will consist of a geo-database containing all collected data, a geographical information system with suitable algorithms for data fusion and processing, and a web interface which will enable information sharing, collaboration and coordination between managing authorities from different regions and countries. The partnership group leader is the Region of Central Macedonia, a body with three Ramsar wetlands under its supervision. The School of Agronomy of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is a partner with extensive experience in wetland monitoring, restoration and management, and has experience in environmental monitoring tools. Also, the University of Basilicata has experience in soil and water parameters measurement, and together with the other project partners, the Region of Western Greece, the Region of Northern Aegean and the Prefecture of Thessaloniki have operational experience in projects involving data collection in wetlands under their administrative boundaries. The collaboration is essential for the needs of the project, to combine expertise in various fields and to monitor the diverse conditions of the selected test sites. The selected test sites are the following wetlands: (i) Lakes Koronia and Volvi (Greece), (ii) Gulf of Kalloni (Greece), (iii) Kotychi Lagoon (Greece), and (iv) Lakes Monticcio (Italy). Additional information and location map is included in Annex VI. The projects main activities include the setup of the international collaboration mechanism, the definition of the wetlands monitoring protocol, the deployment of the monitoring infrastructure, data collection and processing, end-user training, and the diffusion of the results and gained knowledge. Expected results and outputs: • Increased information for wetlands monitoring via more reliable spatiotemporal and biophysical indicators • Increased level of protection and management through an integrated monitoring scheme • Support to the design of environmental policy • Access to and diffusion of innovative technology through the cooperation at international level Direct beneficiaries: • Wetland management authorities of involved countries • Local communities • Ramsar Bureau for the protection of wetlands of international importance.
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