Theme 3: Ecohydrology for sustainability
Without sound water resources management, human activities can upset the delicate balance between water resources and environmental sustainability. A better understanding of water as both an abiotic resource and a service delivered by ecosystems is needed. This understanding would make it possible not only to identify and quantify the critical linkages that regulate the interrelationships of hydrology and biota, but also to see how the control of these linkages may contribute to environmental sustainability. The management approach has to go beyond protection and restoration. It has to recognize the carrying capacity of ecosystems in the face of increasing human impact and find ways to improve and transfer solutions across a variety of environments.
The work at a glance
Under this theme area, IHP will fill existing knowledge gaps by addressing issues related to critical water systems, such as in arid and semi-arid zones, coastal areas, estuaries and urbanized areas where ecohydrological processes have not yet been sufficiently addressed. It will also show how better knowledge of the interrelationships between the hydrological cycle and biota can contribute to more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly management. Finally, it will provide system solutions and technology transfer.
- Ecological measures to protect and remediate catchments processes
- Improving ecosystem quality and services by combining structural solutions with ecological biotechnologies
- Risk-based environmental management and accounting
- Groundwater-dependent ecosystems identification, inventory and assessment
UNESCO’s Ecohydrology Programme is focused 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.
The Programme, activities are organized under five themes and carried out by working groups.
The Education and Capacity Building Working Group is developing a curriculum of academic courses and practitioner trainings to enhance ecohydrology knowledge and implementation on the ground. Priorities for this are to develop a flagship course in ecohydrology and strengthen the numerous efforts already underway in partner institutions.
The Demonstration Working Group is working on criteria to recognize sites where sustainable, innovative and transdisciplinary water management practices based on ecohydrology principles are implemented.
At the same time, the Demonstration Projects launched in 2005 will continue their activities to demonstrate the application of the ecohydrology approach to solve issues surrounding water, environment and people. These sites will also be featured in scientific research and training activities under the programme
The Integration and Upscaling Working Group is investigating the key intersections between socio-economics sciences and the hydrological/ecological cycles. In developing ecohydrology from its core beliefs and principles, using the systems approach, there has been a conscious effort to assimilate new paradigms and thinking into it. The strategy for enhancing ecohydrology science includes:
- Understanding the past efforts
- Integrating various disciplines
- Harmonizing society’s priorities by increasing the carrying capacity of an ecosystem
- The formulation of a vision for sustainable water ecosystem.
The Gender and Social Cultural Biodiversity Group is aiming to bridge the gap between the hydrology, social and ecological/environmental sciences by exploring community cultural values and in so doing, reframe the policy discourse in language that is more appropriate to the purpose of engaging the grass-roots community in the eco-social action planning processes as a basis for social change.
The Ecohydrology Modeling and Visualization Group is working on tools to inform and support water managers and planners in making integrated water resource management decisions using the ecohydrology approach. This working group is aiming to cross disciplinary boundaries such as water systems, economics and social science to promote integration to develop software tools for solving real problems.
- For more information, download the 'Ecohydrology for sustainability' information brochure (PDF, 4 MB)
Division of Water Sciences
1, rue Miollis
75015 Paris, France
Tel: (+ 33) 1 45 68 40 01
Fax: (+ 33) 1 45 68 58 11
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