Agriculture – including cropping, livestock rearing and aquaculture – is an important economic sector in most Mediterranean countries, providing food, income and employment in the production, processing and trade value-chain. This is also the main pressure on land and water in rural areas. About 85% of the production is composed of cereals, vegetables and citrus. Since 2008, in line with food security concern, this sector gets an increased support from international organizations and the Mediterranean is not exception.
Historically, human health and food security were the main initial reasons of wetlands destruction in the Mediterranean, through deforestation, burning, drainage and water diversion. The conversion of forest and shrub areas into extensive and openfield agrarian landscape, while not polluting, had negative impacts on water retention, soil erosion and siltation that ultimately impacted negatively several wetlands situated downstream. This is still the case in the Algerian atlas plateau. However, some traditional agricultural activities are positive for wetlands such as dykes and draining canals in desert ecosystems, palm groves oases, creation of temporary watering ponds for extensive husbandry, open wells, etc.
In most cases, the surface of wetlands have decreased and ecosystems and biodiversity were affected by the controlled water systems, by the pollution (chemical fertilizers, pesticides), and by the development of infrastructures and mechanization. However, some new types of wetlands were created such as ricefields, new oasis fed with groundwater, aquaculture basins and water reservoirs for crops and livestock.