Environmental pressure on the Mediterranean ecosystem, located at the crossroads of three continents and home to major socio-political issues, requires a comprehensive approach shared by all bordering territories of the Mediterranean. For example, if the region represents only 7% of the world population, it comprises 60% of the population living in water-scarce countries. The region is already affected specifically by climate change and human activities. They materialize in a loss of biodiversity, shortage of resources, including water, soil degradation, pollution phenomena, or else in an increased risk of natural disasters and usage conflicts
Alone, Mediterranean biodiversity, which ranks among the 34 biodiversity hotspots identified globally, holds an important component of the region's resources and yet remains still unknown, both in its structure and its dynamics. Vulnerable, yet it is a key element of the livability of the region. That is why, in the context of the pan-Mediterranean 10-year metaprogramme MISTRALS for systematic research and observations dedicated to the understanding of the environmental functioning of the Mediterranean basin under the pressure of global change, the scientific programme BioDivMeX has been set up to collaboratively deal with biodiversity issues across the region.
For the purposes of implementation of pilot operations on key ecosystems in the region and priority experiments conducted jointly through scientific exchanges, it is first necessary to harmonize concepts and methods, still somewhat disparate within the Mediterranean scientific community.
To achieve this goal, the Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE) of France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Departments of Biology and Classics & Archaeology of the University of Malta jointly organize the 1st Gozo International BioDivMeX Scientific Workshop from 9 to 14 September 2012 on the Gozo Campus of the University of Malta, with a threefold aim of sharing the latest conceptual advances and technical knowledge on the subject, matching young scientists of both terrestrial and marine environments, opening to all scientific communities in the region.
Thus, the event will bring together a dozen speakers, recognized experts in ecology and biodiversity in the Mediterranean, and about thirty participants, young researchers, doctoral and post-doctoral students, from 12 different countries of all African, European and Middle Eastern shores of the Mediterranean: Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, selected and invited by the INEE in this event.
Innovative and derived from an inclusive vision, the workshop will be transdisciplinary, so as to address the following subjects: Terrestrial vegetation of the Mediterranean (Mediterranean forests: new tools for new challenges, The natural environment of the Maltese Islands); Anthropisation of the Mediterranean Basin (Urbanization and anthropic pressure on shores of the Mediterranean Basin, Geoarchaeology of ancient Mediterranean harbours and coastlines, Domestication of olive (Oleaeuropaea L.) and fig (Ficuscarica L.) in the Western Mediterranean Region); Evolution and conservation of Biodiversity (Climate change and biodiversity: the example of the marine environment, Conservation of biodiversity in the Maltese Islands); Establishment, specificity and functioning of Biodiversity: new perspectives (Deeper water benthic biodiversity of the Malta area: what we know and why we want to know it, Ontogenic and functional biodiversity in the Mediterranean, Biodiversity in the Mediterranean: from establishment of biodiversity to its conservation, An interdisciplinary approach to ecology and conservation of Mediterranean orchids).
So as to leverage the iconic character of the island of Gozo as a model for the challenges the Mediterranean Basin is facing, the course sessions will be complemented by field-sessions on characteristic sites such as Marsalforn Bay, the Dwejra area, the valley of Xlendi or the village of Xagħra, to give a concrete illustration of terrestrial vegetation and endemic plants of Malta, changing environments, through coring and visits to Neolithic sites, and shallow marine ecosystems.