Ecohydrology Programme

Water is vital to human being and nature, but the decline in his quality and biodiversity, observed at the global scale in developed and developing countries, has provided evidence that conventional approaches to water resource management, based on application of engineering techniques, sectoral interventions and the elimination of direct threats such as point source of pollution, are important but not sufficient. Purely technical control, without understanding and considering biotic dynamics, is a more trial and error approach to water management than the implementation of techniques that better respond to policies aimed at sustainable water use and social development. The degradation of water quality, overexploitation of freshwater resources, hydrological hazards and adverse effects of inappropriate management of water resources and ecosystems pose a risk to human health, economic and social development as well as to ecosystem functioning and the maintenance of ecosystem services on which human well-being depends.

UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) (Click here for more information) launched the UNESCO Ecohydrology Programme in 1996, focusing on an integrated understanding of biological and hydrological processes at a catchment scale in order to create a scientific basis for a socially acceptable, cost-effective and systemic approach to the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • advance the integration of social, ecological and hydrological research;
  • generate outcomes that enable the development of effective policies and practices.

By using demonstration projects, Ecohydrology programme plays an important role, not only for testing and dissemination of the concept of Ecohydrology, but also for advancement of its worldwide implementation, and substantial contribution to sustainable use and management of water resources in different societies. 

In Asia and the Pacific, the network of UNESCO IHP Ecohydrology Demonstration Projects provides opportunities to comparative analysis of relationships and patterns of water/biota interplay at different geographic zones, which leads to the wisdom how to apply “dual regulation” to enhance resilience to human impact and increase carrying capacity of ecological systems (for enhancement of water resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services).

A joint strategic meeting IHP-HELP and Ecohydrology Programme in Asia-Pacific was held from 2-3 December 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia with the participation of renowned experts from 7 (seven) countries of the region. In the framework of IHP-VIII Strategic Plan (2014-2021), they discussed on the need to adopt an Asia-Pacific regional design of the UNESCO's Ecohydrology Programme. The idea of launching the AP-Ecohydrology is now under way.

Ecohydrology Demosites in Asia and the Pacific

Operational projects 

  • Management of regional water resources linking with managing of wetland biodiversity in the suburban area of metropolitan Beijing, CHINA.
  • Watershed management in Northeast CHINA: hydrological processes, vegetation optimization and sustainability.
  • Integrated Catchment Management of Putrajaya Lake and Wetland, MALAYSIA.

 Evolving projects

  • Ecohydrology in action: Addressing changing hydrology, ecological condition and community attitudes to water at the Ord River, WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
  • Developing fit-for-purpose tools to address complex social, ecological and economic issues in water planning, AUSTRALIA.
  • Ecohydrology of Western Sydney AUSTRALIA – developing solutions for environmental friendly water management in peri-urban landscapes.
  • Integration of eco-hydrological processes demonstration research in Heihe River Basin, Northwest of CHINA.
  • Linkage of wetland ecology and hydrology with the support of information techniques for assessing the degraded inland fresh water wetland habitat in Sanjiang Plain, Northeast CHINA.
  • Study of irrigation management practices and impacts of soil salinization in Manas River Valley, Northwest CHINA.
  • Improved ecosystem management to control euthrophication at the Saguling reservoir and relevant hydro-meteorological disasters by wetland construction and river flow regulation. West Java Province. INDONESIA.
  • Integrating watershed management activities with the protection of coastal coral reef ecosystems in MICRONESIA.
  • Understanding ecohydrological connectivity in multiple catchments to conserve groundwater, protect surface water and contain risks in a globalizing city, PHILIPPINES.

 Emerging projects

  • Assessing performance of ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) using Duck weeds and activated sludge management system and sustainably managing limnology to develop hydro ecological regime. BANGLADESH.
  • Caring for Cikapundung River by Reforestation, fetiver plantation, biopores, relocation of squatter, settlements along the River banks, long storage, communal septic tank and ecotechnology to treatment grey water and effluent of communal septic tank for sustainable water supply for Bandung City. INDONESIA.
  • Study of avian community during wetland restoration of Zhalong Nature Reserve in CHINA.
  • Rehabilitation of Balagunan Watershed to restore biodiversity and flood control in Carmen, Davao del Norte, PHILIPPINES
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