Analysis of transboundary water ecosystems and green/blue infrastructures in the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean Andalusia (Spain) – Morocco

Area characterisation: 

This reserve contains a high diversity of species on both shores due to the fact that is a migratory route between African and European continents. The area is characterised by 40 mammals species, 117 birds species, and shows high richness of reptiles (around 50 % of amphibians in the Morocco country are located in the northern part). Even though both sides of the IBRM share similar ecological characteristics, the human activities have shaped the landscape differently. Woodland/forest is the dominant ecosystem on both sides; however, in the Moroccan section agricultural land is extensively present as well. Almost 70% of the Spanish area and 30% of the Moroccan side is protected. Rapid socio-economic development and technological in this region has caused rapid population growth and significant expansion of economic activities.


This AQUACROSSCase Study is carried out at the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean: Andalusia (Spain) – Morocco (IBRM). It implements the EU Biodiversity Strategy in areas that are located in different countries with very similar natural and biophysical conditions, but different socio-economic contexts and policy frameworks.


Nature based solutions are recommended to be taken forward for restoring degraded ecosystems. There is a growing appreciation of their benefits for restoring ecosystems. By focusing on Nature based solutions to improve our Green and Blue Infrastructures, we might be able to maintain healthy ecosystems, reconnect fragmented natural and semi-natural areas and restore damaged habitats, so they can provide us with more and better goods. Therefore, an investment in Nature based solutions for aquatic ecosystems is key to bring more nature and natural features to the landscape and seascape, restore ecosystems and conserve biodiversity. In addition to this, it can create new skills, jobs and business opportunities. Nature based solutions can be used to complement other measures, or they can involve the use of natural areas or conservation measures that were originally established for a purpose other than the Nature based solutions.

Potential impacts/benefits: 

In this case study, AQUACROSS seeks to apply best practice examples of Nature-based Solutions  for aquatic ecosystems through the development of direct recommendations to increase the establishment of Green and Blue Infrastructures in the management and planning of transboundary water ecosystems.

Transferability of the result: 

This project is a Case Study under the Horizon 2020 project AQUACROSS, which builds on work undertaken in the previous pillars to develop concepts, practices and tools for better implementation of Ecosystem Based Management. This includes identifying and understanding the linkages between aquatic ecosystems and human well-being and identifying innovative management responses for aquatic ecosystems.

Lessons learned: 

As part of the Horizon 2020 AQUACROSS project, this Case Study seeks to advance the application of Ecosystem Based Management for aquatic ecosystems. AQUACROSS aims to develop and test an assessment framework, which considers the full array of interactions, including human activities, within aquatic ecosystems.