The project

GOALS

The goal of the LIFE ECOREST project is to restore around 30,000 hectares of deep sea habitats with a high ecological value located off the coast of the provinces of Girona and Barcelona, both in Catalonia, with the active collaboration of fishing industry stakeholders.
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Specific goals
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Validate the efficiency of restoration strategies.

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Assess the recuperation of the ecosystem services in restored areas and adjacent fisheries.

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Promote a participatory approach to fishery management.

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Create spaces that foster dialogue and conversation and strengthen governance mechanisms to contribute to active habitat restoration.

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Raise awareness among local populations and the fishing industry, among others, on the ecological significance and fragility of deep sea habitats and the need to implement measures to protect them.

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Replicate the active restoration and governance schemes implemented in other conservation areas to be included in the protected spaces management plans.

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Transfer the results to other areas of the Mediterranean in which benthic habitats are also threatened.

ACTIONS

The LIFE ECOREST shall be in force until 2026 with the goal of promoting a programme of action to try to improve the conservation status of deep sea habitats and to support an efficient participatory approach that includes stakeholders from the fishing industry.
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Research

Oceanographic research campaigns are to be developed specifically in each exclusion area and a sector of nearby fisheries to study the structuring species and identifying eligible restoration areas. Besides, follow-up studies of restored organisms and their conservation status shall be implemented, and biodiversity of restored areas and ecosystem services shall be assessed.

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Conservation

This project shall work on maintenance of Gorgonia, coral and sponge species, among other structuring sessile organisms which may be accidentally fished. For these purposes, aquariums will be placed inside the premises of fisher’s cooperatives, and fishers shall receive training on maintenance of specimens, their preparation and other on-board operations.

We will address the restoration of different organism groups, including sponges, hydrozoa, sea pens, Gorgonia and bamboo corals, among others.

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Participation, capacitation and governance

The goal of promoting participation ensure that the resulting environment is based in trust among stakeholders, as this is the way to get everyone involved, considering both local and national stakeholders.

Besides, spaces for conversation and discussion shall be created and the development of governance capacities and schemes for the main managers and users. A participative work group shall also be created and entrusted with the mission of identifying priorities and encouraging capacitation.

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Informative and educative projects and results transference

For the purposes of promoting knowledge transference, the publication of scientific papers and the participation in conferences and workshops will be encouraged. Besides, the exchange of experiences that promote good practices and the replication of such practices in other protected spaces will also be promoted.

SCOPE OF INTERVENTION

The 29,022 hectares that are expected to undergo restoration are distributed across 14 fishing protection areas spread along the coasts of Girona and Barcelona. The reason for choosing this area as our scope of intervention is the high ecological relevance of this area due to the high concentration of threatened, endangered or vulnerable species, including Gorgonia, black corals, stony corals, sea pens and several species of sponges.

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Six of the intervention areas of the project are non-fishing areas throughout the year and the others have temporary restrictions on fishing, upon agreement of the fishers’ cooperatives, the scientific community and the Spanish fishing administrations.
Area of action map

PARTNERS

The LIFE ECOREST project is coordinated by the ICM-CSIC and its partners are the Association of Fishers’ Cooperatives of Girona, the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, the University of Barcelona and WWF España, and has benefited from a financial contribution of the European Union LIFE Programme.

THE LIFE PROGRAMME

This LIFE ECOREST programme has been funded by the European Union LIFE Programme, which is a financing instrument exclusively intended to fund environmental and climate action projects. It is active since 1992 and has co-financed over 5,500 projects throughout the European Union and in third countries.

Its general goal is to contribute to sustainable development and the achievement of the goals and objectives set forth by the corresponding UE plans and strategies regarding the environment and the climate.

The new 2021-2024 LIFE programme supports projects related to:

Nature and biodiversity

Quality of life and the circular economy

Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change

Clean energy transition

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