Wetlands, similarly to other ecosystems, are dynamic entities facing constant changes due to natural and human influences. With continuous demographic and socio-economic development, their natural resources are under increasing human pressures and protection measures have been established to regulate these pressures towards their wise use and the protection of their biodiversity.
Some measures have been formalized while other, non formal, have been established and somehow maintained by local communities. At the international level, out of the 14 major international and regional conventions and protocols directly or indirectly adressing wetlands, the Ramsar Convention is specific for wetlands. At the national level , most Mediterranean countries develop both a medium-term strategic development programme and an annual budget plan for implementation. The national programme is guided through a series of policy and strategic documents that are periodically assessed and updated: national policies, strategies and actions plans for biodiversity, national wetland strategies, wetlands management plans, local development plans, etc.
The implementation of policies is guided by a series of legal instruments such as laws, guidelines, decrees, etc. Most wetland-related environmental/conservation instruments and efforts focus on protected areas. In non protected areas, general national policies and strategic frameworks usually apply.
In many countries, some wetlands are still protected in an informal way and have long been maintained and managed by local communities. This social attachment to territories, ensuring a certain degree of local protection, is unfortunately often under-estimated or ignored for various reasons.