EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER MANAGEMENT 27 - 30 January 1998 Harare, Zimbabwe MAINTAINING FUNCTIONING OF FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS: THE KEY TO SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES by GER BERGKAMP, MIKE ACREMAN, LESLEY SAFFORD, TABETH MATIZA IUCN Paper No. 18 Prepared for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations _____ MAINTAINING FUNCTIONING OF FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS: THE KEY TO SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES GER BERGKAMP, MIKE ACREMAN, LESLEY SAFFORD, TABETH MATIZA INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURE Abstract Current ideas regarding Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) recognize the limitations of supply driven water management approaches. Within IWRM, ecosystems are seen as important users that need water for their maintenance. Although they are seen as important users their role as providers of water resources and other goods and services is paid little attention to. However, ecosystems such as head waters, forests, wetlands, floodplains, riparian zones and coastal areas provide regulation, habitats, resources and information to human society and regulate water resources. An Ecosystem Based Management Approach is presented that secures the water resources and maintains ecosystem functioning and consequently services and goods ecosystems provide. This approach aims to meet human requirements for the use of freshwater, whilst maintaining hydrological and biological processes and biodiversity that are essential for the functioning of ecosystems, the sustainable use of water resources and the maintenance of services and goods provided by ecosystems. The implementation of this approach is based on four principles: a) improving the assessment of water resources and ecosystem functions, b) strengthening the capacities to manage water resources at different levels, c) improving communication through establishing partnerships and, d) adapting policy and planning to included an equitable sharing of costs and benefits and wise use practices. The Ecosystem Based Management Approach is recommended as the most appropriate strategy to meet current and future water demands in a sustainable way. 1. Introduction The direct economic value of water as a resource, for domestic use, agriculture and industry, and the economic value of the most obvious goods that it provides, such as fish, are appreciated world wide. Consequently, freshwater management strategies have typically been geared to the maintenance of supplies of water and these tangible goods. Until th 1980s, the approaches taken to secure the availability of water and goods were mostly sub-sector based and tailored according to supply driven principles with little consideration of competition for scarce resources between different users. The Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach that is advocated most recently has recognised the limitation of this approach. In response, it specifically considers the interactions between all components of water resources and water resource users, and is mainly inter-sectoral and demand driven. There is a growing consensus that the IWRM approach could provide a way out of the gridlock that currently faces water resources management and could also have the potential for developing strategies for sustainable water resources management (NEDA, 1997; GWP, 1997). Within the current ideas of IWRM, ecosystems are seen as important water users that for their maintenance need water that cannot be used for other purposes. The use of water resources to maintain freshwater ecosystems includes e.g. the use of water to maintain wetlands, the use of water to maintain minimal river flows, and the use of water to maintain seasonal inundations. Although ecosystems have now been recognised as important users of water, little attention has been given to their vital role as providers and regulators of water resources. In addition, little consideration has been given to the other services and goods ecosystems provide, such as flood regulation, biodiversity conservation, fish and firewood. However, it is of fundamental importance to the longer term availability and sustainable management of water resources that the maintenance of ecosystems and the strengthening of their role as providers of services and goods is recognised (Laanbrock et al., 1996). In this paper the relationship between the functioning of freshwater ecosystems and the services and goods they provide will be discussed to substantiate and exemplify this. Based on these considerations, an Ecosystem Based Management Approach is presented that harnesses the functioning of ecosystems and the sustainable management of resources, services and goods they provide. The approach is based on four components: monitoring resources, strengthening capacities, improving communication, and adapting the planning process and policy. These components will be discussed in more detail. Finally, recommendations considering the valuation of functions and services provided by ecosystems and the actions required to improve the monitoring of these functions will be given. 2 Functions and values of water based ecosystems 2.1 The traditional approach to water management People need water to drink, grow and prepare food and provide power for domestic and industrial use. These are the direct or obvious uses of water, and policy makers are traditionally driven to manage water to provide people with water for these purposes. In view of the unprecedented rise in human population (from 2.8 billion in 1955 to 5.3 billion in 1990), and the prediction that by 2025 as many as 1,100 million people will suffer severe water stress (Engleman and LeRoy, 1993; Falkenmark, 1989), it is not surprising that governments and water resource managers constantly seek to maximise the volume of water available for direct use. Consequently, traditional management plans for water resources divert water from original stores and pathways to new stores and pathways that supply it to people for direct use. Groundwater is extracted from stores in aquifers. Artificial dams and reservoirs are created to hold water in convenient locations to supply large populations with power and water. River channels are dredged, straightened, isolated from their floodplains and wetlands, forests are removed from river catchments in efforts to speed water across the landscape to points of consumption. In some cases water is channelled so efficiently for direct use that rivers run dry before they reach the sea. In view of society■s need for water for basic goods provided through agriculture, industry and domestic services, and the highly successful attempts to channel water to meet that demand, the idea that water should be used to support ecosystems rather than withdrawn to support people, may be seen as extravagant and wasteful. Allowing rainfall to "run away" into underground aquifers, be absorbed by soil or taken up and released into the atmosphere by forests, might appear as bad management of the water resource. Indeed as holders and consumers of water, the landscape and plants and animals can appear as direct competitors with people for water use. However, although it is true that ecosystems may lock up water, for example in wetlands or aquifers, and plants and animals consume water which can not then be used for direct use by people, ■expending■ water in this way may per unit volume, provide greater benefits to people than those provided by directly using it for agriculture, industry or domestic use. How can allocating water to the ■environment■ provide benefits to people? How can society weigh these benefits against those provided through agriculture, industry or domestic use? How can society decide on a strategy of allocation that will obtain the maximum benefits for the maximum number of people over the maximum period of time? The first step is to appreciate the "hidden" benefits provided to people by the environment which requires water for its support. In holding or consuming the water, ecosystems maintain hydrological and biological processes which determine how the environment functions. How the environment functions determines which services the environment provides to people. To explain what these processes, services and goods are, we will describe how water is ■used■ by ecosystems and what benefits the environment provides to people in return, both in terms of water resources and services and goods. 2.2 Ecosystems as providers of water resources and key-functions Water forms an essential element for sustaining life on earth. As water travels from moutains to the sea, proportions are used along the way to support the various ecosystems and maintain their functioning. In return for this expenditure of water, the hydrological and biological processes of the ecosystem enable the ecosystems to provide several functions to people both throughout the catchment and globally. Ecosystem functions are defined as ■the capacity of natural processes and components of natural or semi- natural systems to provide services and goods that satisfy human needs (directly or indirectly) (De Groot 1992). Generally, ecosystem functions are grouped into four cateregories (after De Groot 1992): regulation functions, habitat functions, production functions and informations functions. Ecosystems as providers of regulation Ecosystems function both as regulators of water quantity and water quality. Several types of ecosystems are known to act as hydrological buffers, absorbing water to prevent flooding and releasing it in times of drought. Providing this service increases the quantity of water and protects downstream communities from flood and drought. For example, cloud forests in La Tigra National Park (Honduras) sustain a well-regulated, high quality water flow throughout the year, yielding over 40% of the water supply of the capital city (Acreman and Lahmann, 1995). In a slightly different way, wetland ecosystems are able to reduce rates of water flow and store water above the surrounding water table (for example in a raised bog). The vegetation and hydrology enables the wetland ecosystem to function as a ■sponge■ and provide the services of flood prevention and water storage. The value of these services may be considerable. Often technical alternatives to regulate the quantity of flow are much more expensive. New York City, for example, spends only 10% of the costs of building water treatment facilities (US$7 billion) to ensure its water supply through the protection of the biological and hydrological processes of the upper parts of the catchment on which the water supply is depending (Abramovitz, 1997). Ecosystems also regulate the quantity of water resources through taking up water and releasing it into the atmosphere. rain forest tree, for example, can pump 2.5 million gallons of water into the atmosphere during its lifetime (Ehrlich and Ehrlich, 1992) of which most is recycled and not lost from the forest. In the Amazon rainforest, 50% of rainfall is derived from local evaporation. After forest cover is removed an area can become hotter and drier because water is no longer cycled between plants and the atmosphere. This can lead to a positive feedback cycle of desertification, with an increasing loss of local water resources (Gash et al, 1996). Results of computer simulations have confirmed these feedbacks play an important role in determining local climate. A global circulation simulation model predicted that if the Amazon tropical forest and savannah was replaced with pasture land, the climatic consequences would included a weakened hydrological cycle, less precipitation (- 26%) and evaporation and an increase in surface temperate due to changes in albedo and roughness (Shukla et al, 1990; Lean and Warrilow, 1989). Similarly, modeling the removal of natural vegetation in the Sahelian region of Africa predicts that rainfall would be reduced by 22% between June and August and the rainy season would be delayed by half a month (Xue and Shukla, 1993). These two examples show that forest ecosystems function as water recycling systems. In return for the water they use, they provide the service of regulating both local and global climate and maintaining local water resources. Ecosystems not only regulate the quantity of water flow but also regulate the quality of the flowing water. On sloping ground, for example, vegetation anchors soil and prevents it from being washed into the water course where it would cause siltation and nutrification and reduce light penetration. This would reduce water quality, the health of aquatic ecosystems and the suitability of the water for aquaculture and other uses. The physical structure of water courses and the organisms that inhabit it also regulate water quality. For example, waterfalls, rapids and aquatic vegetation oxygenate the water, and river banks, river beds and vegetation trap sediment. These hydrological and biological processes enable the water course to function as a water purification unit providing fresh water. Freshwater wetland ecosystems are also known as important water quality regulators. Within these systems toxins and excessive nutrients are removed from the water both by processes of decomposition and uptake by vegetation (Baker and Maltby, 1995). As wetlands hold water for long periods of time, decomposition processes and vegetation are given enough time to remove nutrients and toxins from the water. For example, vegetation found in the Melaleuca wetlands in SE Asia reduces the acidity of polluted water and removes toxic metal ions making the water suitable again for the irrigation of rice (Ni et al., 1997). In this way, the combination of hydrological and biological processes allows wetlands to function as filtration and purification systems and to provide the service of water purification. Coastal wetlands systems, such as saltmarshes and mangroves, also function as buffers and regulators of water quality (Koch et al., 1992). These systems provide a physical and hydrological buffer between marine and freshwater, while their vegetation removes sediment and nutrients from the freshwater before it flows into the sea. This process allows the coastal wetland to function as a final freshwater filter, providing the service of protecting coastal marine resources, such as coral reefs or seagrass beds from sediment deposition. Coastal wetland vegetation absorbs the energy of winds and waves from the sea, a process that enables the wetland to function as a barrier against saltwater intrusion, marine floods, erosion and wind damage and provide the service of protecting coastal land resources. In recognition of the protective function of the mangrove forest of the uncleared Sundarbans forest of Bangladesh and India, the Bangladesh government have planted and replanted mangroves to protect embankments and new land (Saenger et al., 1983). Ecosystems as providers of habitats Floodplains, wetlands, river courses and headwaters of catchments are important for the regulation of water resources. Sustaining the functioning of these ecosystems to keep them providing the regulation service requires the maintenance of many biological processes. These processes are often extremely complex and depend on the maintenance of these areas as habitats for many species of plants, fish, birds and others animals. For example, wetlands in semi-arid and arid areas are known as prime areas for biodiversity conservation and as important nursery and feeding areas for many aquatic and terrestrial migratory species. Wetlands are particularly important for aquatic species whose young require low water flow rates. Consequently wetland ecosystems can provide the service of maintaining fish and shrimp fisheries. River courses are also important habitats. The vegetation, banks and bottom of wild water courses provide shelter and food for a large variety of animals. In contrast to wetlands, water courses function as habitat for animals that require fast flowing oxygen rich water, and consequently provide the service of maintaining fisheries. Together, freshwater ecosystems support important biodiversity, including over 10,000 species of fish and over 4,000 of amphibians described sofar (McAllister et al., 1997; WCMC, 1992). Coastal wetlands are also important providers of habitats. They provide food and shelter for marine animals that require freshwater conditions for part of their life-cycle. Consequently, coastal wetlands function as habitat for o.a. crabs, oysters and shrimp, and provide the service of supporting fisheries based on these goods. For example, 90% of the fish harvest of the gulf of Mexico, worth US$700 million per year, consists of species which are dependent upon the mangroves and coastal wetlands of the region at some stage in their life cycle (Dugan, 1990). Ecosystems as providers of resources Many water based ecosystems provide large quantities of water, food and energy for direct human consumption, agriculture, fisheries, watering livestock, industry and energy production. Water supply in many rural areas within or near wetlands depend largely on water extracted from shallow boreholes. The aquifer these boreholes tap is often recharged directly from the extensive wetland. Harvesting wetland ecosystem goods while respecting the production rate and the regenerative capacity of each species can generate great benefits to human society. One of the most important products of wetland ecosystems is fish. In many areas the fishing industry related to wetland ecosystems forms a fundamental pilar of the local and national economy. Direct harvest of forest resources of many wetlands and floodplains yields a number of important products, ranging from fuelwood, timber and bark to resins and medicines which are common non-wood ■minor■ forest products (Dugan, 1990). Wildlife rich wetlands also provide important commercial products such as meat, skins, eggs and honey. Wetland and floodplain ecosystems often contain substantial grasslands and forests that are grazed by livestock and are important to pastoral communities. Leaves, grasses, and seed pods are amongst the prime resources these systems provide to these communities. Wetlands also contain a large genetic reservoir for certain plant species, fish and other animals. For example, wild rice continues to be an important resource of new genetic material used in developing disease resistance and other desirable traits. The importance of ecosystems as providers of many resources is very often underestimated or neglected. However maintaining their role as providers of resources is of fundamental importance for the sustainable development of human societies. Ecosystems as providers of information Water based ecosystems provide many opportunities for recreation, aesthetic experience and reflection. Recreational uses include fishing, sport hunting, birdwatching, photography, and water sports. The economic value of these can be considerable. For example in Canada the value of wetland recreation was estimated in 1981 to exceed US$ 3.9 billion (Dugan, 1990). Maintaining the wetlands and capitalizing on these uses can be a valuable alternative to more disruptive uses and degradation of these ecosystems. They are important repositors and stores of palaeontological information. Under anaerobic conditions biological material such as pollen, and diatoms and even human bodies can be preserved in peats and lake sediments. It is up to society to decide how to allocate water to maximise the benefits it provides to society as a whole. The problem is to decide how much water should be used for the maintenance of ecosystems to provide environmental goods and maintain elemental services and how much water should be used to support agriculture, industry and domestic services to provide basic goods. Obviously, the value that society places on these alternative goods and services will determine the pattern of allocation. It is important therefore that the costs and benefits to society of allocating water to maintain ecosystems and to support agriculture, industry and domestic uses is well understood. Techniques are now available to estimate the economic value of specific biomes. Barbier et al. (1996), for example, have produced guidelines for the economic valuation of wetland goods and services. Costanza, et al. (1997) have attempted to calculate the economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes. They used these estimates to determine a value of US$ 16-54 trillion per year (with an average of US$33 trillion per year) for the value of the entire biosphere. This is almost twice the global national product total of US$18 trillion. 2.3 Negative effects of current water development practices Management plans for water systems that focus solely on maximising the quantity of water available for direct use typically only consider costs and benefits of the project in these terms. For example, the economic costs of labour and technology set against the economic benefits of increased agricultural productivity or supply of power. Diverting water from one pathway to another means that new benefits from the water resource will replace old benefits. Society needs to be sure that the new benefits are greater than those provided by the water in its old pathway. It is essential that societies can consider both the economic and the social and cultural benefits of alternative allocation strategies and their sustainability for future generations. If these considerations are not made societies risk making less than the best use of their water resources. The economic benefits of using water to support fisheries, agriculture and fuel wood in wetlands may be many times greater than using it for intensive irrigation. However, these benefits may be overlooked in water resource management plans, as in the case of the construction of Tiga and Challowa Gorge dams on the Hadejia River in Northern Nigeria. The dams reduced inundation of the Hadejia- Nguru floodplains. Inundation is necessary to recharge the groundwater which supplies well-water downstream and to some 100,000 people in the Komodugu-Yobe basin (Hollis et al., 1993). In respect of the importance of this and other functions of the wetland, the Nigerian authorities are making test releases of water from the reservoirs to augment flooding of the wetlands (Acreman, 1994). The social and cultural costs and benefits people receive from different water allocation patterns are often less visible than economic ones. Consequently the chief aim of hydrological management has been to speed up economic development. In recent years the construction of major dams is seen as a key component of this strategy. Dams store water when river flows are high and release it when needed to supply power and irrigation to urban populations and industry. In many parts of the world, dams have stimulated economic growth and permitted intensification of agriculture, increased yields. However, in many cases dams have hastened removal or conversion of riverine forests and other floodplain and wetland habitats and also replaced the natural cycle of floods and low flows with a more constant flow pattern related to electricity or irrigation demand. These changes in water flow can lead to changes in the way ecosystems dependent on that flow function, which in turn impacts on societies dependent on these ecosystems. For example, two dams were built in the Senegal River valley in 1986/7: the Diama dam near the river mouth and the Manantali dam in the headwaters. The Diama dam inhibits saltwater intrusion into the river to allow its use for irrigation and regulating water levels to facilitate transport. The Manantali dam was built to generate hydro-electric power and to regulate flows in the river. In addition, embankments were constructed along both banks of the river to prevent inundation. The engineering works had many effects on the environment, some of which created social problems in terms of increased health risk and loss of productivity in agriculture and fisheries. The character of the vegetation in the Djoudj National Park, adjacent to the river, changed significantly as the dry season saline water intrusion into the river was replaced by a regime of continuous freshwater. This led to increased survival of snails and mosquitoes which carry diseases. Before 1987 neither rift valley fever (a mosquito-borne viral disease) nor human intestinal schistosomiasis (an aquatic snail-borne worm parasite disease) had been recorded in West Africa. Following construction of the Diama dam, 200 deaths from rift valley fever were recorded and an 80% abortion rate among sheep and goats. In 1988, there was a 2% prevalence rate of schistosomiasis, by 1989 this had risen to 72%. In addition, there was a 90% drop in the productivity of the fisheries of the Senegal delta which relied on inputs of freshwater from upstream (Verhoef, 1996). Cultural costs of construction of the same dams include the loss from society of traditional cultures adapted to the dynamics of the Senegal River valleys floodplains. Diversion of water from the floodplains prevented the recharge of nutrient levels and groundwater stores achieved by the previous regular flooding. Of 80,000ha of traditional grazing lands, only 4,000ha could still support vegetation for grazing cattle. The society that had adapted to the floodplains seasonal cycle were forced to abandon its culture, and the knowledge base of that culture lost to society. More recent thinking has tried to develop traditional approaches to water management which have evolved over many years, often in sympathy with the environment rather than against it. Flood recession agriculture is a prime example, where flooding is seen as a positive process, bringing fresh soil, nutrients, water and fish to the floodplain. Floating rice is often grown during inundation of African floodplains, and arable crops are planted in the wet soil as the flood waters recede. Some soil moisture persists to the dry season and provides essential grazing for migrant herds. Throughout west Asia, much water is stored in alluvial cones at the base of steep impermeable slopes. This has been exploited traditionally by the excavation of tunnels, called kareses, from the alluvium downslope towards the villages or agricultural land, with vertical shafts every few hundred metres to provide water abstraction points. Rather than develop this sustainable technique, many of the kareses have now fallen into disrepair and replaced by boreholes directly into deeper aquifers powered by electric pumps, which have permitted over exploitation of the groundwater. 1.Maintaining ecosystem functioning using an ecosystem approach. 3.1 Maintaining ecosystem functioning As described above, the goods and services provided by an ecosystem depend on how it functions. How it functions depends on what hydrological and biological processes occur within it. Which processes are performed depend upon which physical chemical and biological components make up the system. These include the quantity and type of plants, animals, microbes, soil and minerals. The components that make up the system are dependent to a large degree on the quantity and the quality and water moving in and out of the system. This dependency originates mainly from sediment and nutrients brought in by water entering an ecosystem, which bring food for animals and maintains soil fertility for plants. To maintain the functions and services of an ecosystem, both the key components, and the quantity and quality of water flowing through the ecosystem needs to be conserved. For example, the vegetation of "Melaleuca" forest in SE Asia will only be able to reduce the acidity of water if the flow of water in and out of the ecosystem is slow enough to give the process time to work. Similarly the papyrus swamps in Uganda absorb sewage discharged from Kampala and purify water supplies, but a certain quantity of water is required within the ecosystem to allow the biological processes to take place. The National Sewerage and Water Corporation recognises this need and is ensuring enough water is allocated to the swamps to maintain their functioning (Dugan, 1990). Degradation of ecosystem components other than water also often leads to changes in the ability of ecosystems to function and provide services that benefit water resources. For example, forest clearance has had a great effect on the water purifying service of the North Selangor Peat Swamp forest (Khan, 1996). The 75,000 hectare swamp once performed the functions of water storage and water purification, and provided one of the largest rice schemes in Malaysia which borders it with the services of flood protection and provision of high water quality. In recent years the forests have been cleared for agriculture and tin mining. The trees are no longer present to retain soil, sediment, water and toxins. Consequently, the swamp no longer provides the services to the rice scheme. It is forecast that further clearance would result in significant water quality problems in the rice fields. If society wishes to continue to benefit from the services an ecosystem provides, it must ensure that both the key components of the ecosystem, and the quantity and quality of water resources within the ecosystem are maintained. Society also needs to consider all the ecological, economic, social, cultural and political costs and benefits of alternative management options. The fundamental question is - How can societies decide how to manage water resources and maintain key functions provided by ecosystems and balance the need to support agriculture, industry, domestic use, and natural goods and services? The only sustainable method is for the stakeholders in the water resource to choose which benefits they most want to receive from the water resource, and create a management plan that provides these benefits. To make an informed choice all stakeholders of the water resource need to appreciate both the benefits water can provide through supporting agriculture, industry and domestic life, and through supporting ecosystem processes, functions and services. Stakeholders also need to understand the choice of management actions available to maintain those benefits, and the consequences the management actions would have for alternative benefits. 3.2 What is an Ecosystem Based Management Approach? An Ecosystem Based Management Approach approach aims to meet human requirements for the use of freshwater, whilst maintaining the biological diversity, hydrological and ecological processes necessary to sustain the composition, structure and function of the ecosystems that support human communities. It is a holistic approach that considers all the relevant and identifiable (ecological and economic, social, cultural and political) costs and benefits of alternative management options to all stakeholders, and ensures that the plan which is adopted is that which is most acceptable to all stakeholders. 3.3 Spatial and temporal scales of management The appropriate spatial scale at which to apply ecosystem based management depends upon the relative importance of the components in the system, the scale of natural disturbances (e.g., fires, landslides, floods), pertinent biological processes (e.g. disease, foraging, reproduction) and dispersal characteristics and capabilities of the component populations. The fundamental unit for water-related management issues is normally the drainage basin, as this demarcates a hydrological system, in which components and processes are linked by water movement. Deforestation of headwater catchments can, for example, affect water yield and frequency of flooding downstream. Hence the term integrated river basin management has developed as a broad concept which takes a holistic approach at this scale. However, frequently the underlying aquifer does not coincide exactly with the surface river basin. Thus, where groundwater plays a significant role, a group of basins overlying an aquifer may constitute the appropriate unit of water resource management. Defining the temporal scales of an ecosystem based management, short, intermediate and long term considerations need to be taken into account. Many of today■s practices only consider short and at best intermediate term availability en reliability of water resources. Little attention is paid to the long term sustainability of current practices. For example, mining of non-renewable groundwater resources, that is unsustainable in the long term, is practised in many dryland areas. Another example is the pollution of infiltrated water that will percolate to groundwater at larger time scales (100 - 10,000 years). The long term unsustainability makes these practices inappropriate from many perspectives (National Researach Council, 1997). An Ecosystem Based Management Approach especially takes into account the long term sustainability of practices. Although some options may be more appropriate from a short time frame perspective, the approach considers practises ■wise■ when they are sustainable and thus both meet current and future demands and support ecosystems to provide services and goods at the longer term. 3.4 Recognizing the importance of an Ecosystem Based Management Approach The importance of an Ecosystem Based Management Approach is being recognised, not just by the scientific and conservation community, but also by international environmental instruments. For example, the Convention on Biological Diversity is in the advanced stages of formulating a work programme on inland water systems that recognises the importance of adopting an ecosystem-based approach to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of the biological diversity of inland waters and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits these provide (UNEP 1997). Consequently the Secretariat of the CBD is seeking to develop a ■modus operandi■ to assist Parties to the CBD to implement an ecosystem based approach internationally, regionally and locally. In general, ecosystem management is still far from being successfully implemented. The rate at which it is implemented, and the success of that implementation depends largely on how well international environmental instruments work together to advise their often shared Parties. In view of the interdependency of biological diversity and sustainable development it is particularly essential that the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Convention of Biological Diversity work together. Both are currently considering the thematic area of fresh or inland water resources. By joining with the CBD in advising Parties to adopt an ecosystem approach as a Strategic approach for the sustainable management of freshwater resources, the Parties of the CSD and the CBD will continue to benefit from the close co-operation between the Commission and Convention. 4. Implementing an ecosystem-based approach to the management freshwater resources The importance of an ecosystem approach is beginning to be accepted. International instruments are beginning to advise that countries adopt it, but what advice is available to Countries on how to implement an ecosystem-based approach to the management of freshwater resources? Most of the questions that we can anticipate countries asking fall into four categories. What are the extent of the water resources and what ecosystem functions do they support? How can we achieve the capacity to design and implement an ecosystem based management plan for water resources? How can the various stakeholders in society communicate, and reach agreement over the design and implementation of development projects? Is policy and planning sufficiently based on a sufficiently diverse disciplinary ground to support implementation of ecosystem based approaches to the management of water resources? To ensure that we can answer these questions we need to assess what is known, identify gaps in the available information, and set about filling those gaps so that high quality is advice is available to countries on demand. 4.1 Assessment of water resources and functions and values of ecosystems Monitoring of water resources Effective management of resources can only be achieved if decisions are based on sound information. Even in developed countries, where there is a dense network of rainfall and river flow measurement stations, the amount of water resources data is still limited and considerable funds are being invested to develop methods of resource assessment for un-gauged rivers. Furthermore, hydrological data on slow flowing or static water bodies and terrestrial ecosystems are very rare (Acreman and Hollis, 1996). It is therefore extremely difficult at present to quantify the water resource used and provided by many ecosystems. We are still largely ignorant of precisely how these ecosystems function in transforming hydrological inputs into ecological, environmental and human goods and services. With a projected increasing pressure on water resources there is a large need to increase the monitoring of hydrological properties of catchments. As part of water resource planning and management the movement through and storage within key ecosystems must be quantified to enable their crucial hydrological functions to be assessed and used effectively. Water quantity measurement should include rainfall, river flows, infiltration to grasslands, interception and recycling of water within forests, storage of floodwater, recharge of groundwater (within wetlands), and extend of annual flooding. Water quality measurements should include levels of acidity, nutrients (nitrate, phosphate), pesticides, ammonia, BOD, oxygen and heavy metals. Re-vitilising excisting measurement networks and establishing new networks should be encouraged to support these tasks. Monitoring and valuing key-functions of ecosystems Besides monitoring hydrological aspects, a sound ecosystem based management needs to monitor the functions, services and goods that ecosystems provide. In addition to one-off assessments of the hydrological functions of ecosystems for planning purposes, data collection must be continued through periodic monitoring to ensure that the function continues and is not degraded. The frequency of recording depends upon the variable being measured and the hydrology of the river basin. To ensure a cost effective assessment of functions, indicators of the performance of functions need to be developed. Currently these indicators are being established for monitoring biodiversity but these need to be expanded to include other functions of freshwater ecosystems. To be able to select between different management options within a IWRM approach, resources and functions provided by ecosystems need to be economically valued. A recent valuation of environmental services and goods provided by the world ecosystems has estimated these to be US$ 4.5 billion (Costanza et al., 1997). Economic values of ecosystems can be evaluated against economic benefits from outputs under changed conditions. Decision makers will then be able to base their decision on a balanced judgement of economic costs and benefits of projected developments. 4.2 Strengthening capacities Transferring appropriate technology to local water managers and regional planners Current planning practices are often aimed at the implementation of new technologies to improve water resources use. However, often local knowledge and practices need not to be replaced or adjusted. Therefore planners should consider both traditional and modern technologies in the design and implementation of water projects. To ensure balanced implementation of appropriate technologies, capacities need to be build at the various levels ranging from the regional planner to the individual stakeholder (Borrini Feyerabend and Buchan, 1997; OECD, 1996). Whatever the level, institutions need well-informed members who have an appreciation of the wide range of issues facing water resource allocation. Training is an essential element, but training needs to vary with the type of institution. Professional technical advisors require formal training courses, for example, on water resource planning and wetland management, whilst local community representatives may be best trained with involvement in local activities, such as participatory rural appraisal or through visits to demonstration projects. Furthermore, local circumstances should help determine the choice of appropriate technology. Important in this respect is the change to demand based management. To change demands appropriate technologies and new methods for water conservation, recycling, and maintenance or restoration of water quality need to be pursued. An example of this is the development of non-water based sanitation systems for arid and semi-arid areas. Selected technologies need to be promoted through the use of on-farm trials, farmer-to-farmer and women-to-women contacts, radio-programmes, posters etc. aiming at a replication of successful initiatives. Integration of management and development planning The management of water resources takes place at many different levels in society ranging from the individual farmer to communities, districts and national water authorities. Most planning of development occurs mainly outside the affected area at district or national level both by national institutes and consultancy firms. To change current practices communities should be involved in the design and implementation of development projects (Borrini Feyerabend and Buchan, 1997). Collaborative management agreements between governments and local communities should be encouraged. Under these agreements, communities assume responsibility for sound management of local agro-ecosystems including their biodiversity in return for the right to use water and involvement in river basin management and planning. The design, implementation and evaluation of water projects should benefit more from community participation. To ensure community involvement in planning, a change in institutions will be needed in many places. To facilitate this change an assessment of current decision making strategies, internal communication structures and organisational capacities of the institutions involved can be a valuable first action. Development of strategies for conflict resolution With the rise in demands for the many uses of limited water resources, conflicts concerning quantity, quality and allocation will increase. Water related conflicts arise at levels ranging from communities and districts to countries and regions. As freshwater becomes more scarce, users and other stakeholders must reach a consensus on individual needs, negotiate on solutions and collaborate on long term conservation of water resources and biodiversity. Involvement of all interested parties is essential in the process of conflict resolution. Currently there is a need for strengthening the capacities for conflict management at different levels (community, district, national, international) (Borrini Feyerabend and Buchan, 1997). At local, district and national levels, independent water commissions should have the authority to arbitrate and adjudicate between water users and should ensure equitable distribution of water-use rights. Distribution patterns should support the long term conservation of water resources and ecosystem functions, services and goods for future generations. At the national and multilateral level agreements on shared water resources should be negotiated. These should encompass the current and future rights and responsibilities of users of upstream and downstream surface water resources and renewable and non-renewable groundwater resources. 4.3 Improving communication through establishing partnerships Using multidisciplinary teams to ensure coherence in planning and management Traditional sector based planning and management is characterised by a lack of co-ordinating the allocation of limited resources to different users and harnessing the role of ecosystems as providers of many services and goods. Important reasons for these are the dominance of a single discipline in the supply-based planning and management process and the underestimation of the many functions and values of ecosystems. To ensure improved planning and management, scientific and technical coherence should be advocated by the involvement of multidisciplinary teams. These teams are to be established at local, regional, national and international levels and be aimed at communicating different perspectives on water resources and building consensus on the conservation of water resources and the maintenance of ecosystem functioning as the bases for sustainable development. Establishing inter-sectoral teams for development of policy and planning tools Current initiatives on IWRM are encountering many new challenges for which traditional sub-sector based solution are often inadequate. The new problems are often less of a technical nature rather then relate to the handling of a broad range of information sources, the integration and synthesis of this information, reaching agreement on facts, alternatives and solutions, the communication of the synthesised information to a wide range of stakeholders and the transformation of this information into adequate policies. To ensure development of adequate policies and planning tools that support the conservation of water resources and ecosystem functioning, inter- sectoral teams need to be established. Within these teams, local user groups should be represented to ensure both their input into the planning process and the communication of outputs to individual users. Setting-up multi-stakeholder teams for programme definition and co- ordination Local communities are the key-actors in the management of agro- ecosystems and water resources as a part of these. An effective communication with the local communities is required to learn from their experiences and to integrate their views and aspirations into development and management plans. Only with the involvement of local groups plans and policies will be supported and adhered to and a successful implementation be possible. Therefore, a considerable effort should be put in organising local communities in resource user groups with special attention to the formation of women groups given their specific relation and responsibilities in water resources utilisation and conservation. Empowerment of these user groups through their representation in multi-stakeholder teams is essential for the success of these initiatives. The multi- stakeholder teams ensure that meaningful contacts will be established amongst stakeholders and between stakeholders and governmental organisations. The advantage will be that the views of the various stakeholders can be better communicated to policy and decision makers while development and management options can be more easily communicated back to communities. 4.4 Adapting policy and planning Including environmental and economic costs, and sharing of costs and benefits Inappropriate water use can lead to considerable environmental and economic costs. A loss of functions, services and goods through decreased water inputs into aquatic ecosystems can lead to a sharp decline of profits from these areas. Including the environmental and economic costs of reduced flows into these ecosystems and other inappropriate water uses into planning and policy making should be promoted to improve the environmental and economic efficiency of water use. Looking into the subsidies on water and especially their negative effects on both economy and ecosystems could be a valuable action within this realm. Furthermore, large changes are expected in many areas in the amount and distribution of domestic water use due to changes in lifestyle and increased urbanisation. The impact on environment and rural water use of these changes could be vast, given the need for more water and infrastructure for storage and delivery. Changes in lifestyle and population size and distribution should be incorporated into water resources plans and policies. These should be aimed at safeguarding the maintenance of equitable sharing of water resources and the costs and benefits involved. Promoting wise use, best practices and use of appropriate technology Within a IWRM framework different options are available for the allocation of water resources to the various users. The selection of best IWRM practices should be based on a sustainable pattern of water use, promote wise use of water resources and safeguard the fundamental role of ecosystems as providers of clean water. Specific attention should be given to supply to and use of renewable and non- renewable groundwater resources. To promote best ecosystem based management practices in planning, management and water use, regional and on-site operational guidelines need to be disseminated. These guidelines need to be substantiated with regional examples of best practices from case studies that exemplify development options that achieve water management goals, but preserve functioning of freshwater ecosystems. Examples of these include the use of wetlands to improve water quality and the utilisation of floodplains for flood damage control. To facilitate the change to demand driven IWRM, environmentally appropriate technologies need to be promoted. Whilst technology has clearly brought benefits to many people, to be sustainable it must be appropriate in terms of the ability of local people to maintain the system and appropriate for the environment, as far as possible working in sympathy with it, rather than just against it. Examples of these technologies include non-water based sanitation systems, many forms of traditional rain fed agriculture, indigenous water and soil conservation techniques and riparian zone management. Restoring ecosystem functioning to degraded freshwater ecosystems Degraded river channels and wetlands are characterised by a loss of structure and functions they formerly fulfilled. Restoration of freshwater ecosystems has only began in recent years and experience is still limited. For river channel restoration the rehabilitation of water quality, flow regime and habitat structure are principal components. Successful restoration of drained wetlands is not merely to obstruct installed drainage but includes damming, flooding or "irrigating" affected areas. A complex seasonal regime may be required to rehabilitate the original ecosystem. Restoration of degraded freshwater ecosystems should been seen as an ultimate solution to combat the loss of structure and function. Preference is given to pro-active actions that aim at sustaining these structures and functions. The economic justification of restoration can often be found in the much higher economic output of restored freshwater ecosystems compared to e.g. outputs from large scale irrigation schemes if all products are properly costed (Acreman, 1994). 5. Recommendations for further work It is clear that healthy ecosystems can provide beneficial hydrological functions to assist with water management. Consequently, maintaining the functioning of these freshwater ecosystems is a key element in the sustainable management of water resources. We recommend that: 1. An Ecosystem Based Management Approach is adopted as the most appropriate strategy to meet current and future water demands and the economic, social and cultural requirements of society in a sustainable way. 2. Initiatives are supported that improve the assessment of water resources and functions and values of ecosystems. This involves quantifying the water requirements of ecosystems and determining the ecological, environmental, economic, health, social and cultural benefits of the functions provided by ecosystems. 3. Research is undertaken to understand ecosystem functioning more fully with the aim of developing rapid and easy to apply methods for functional assessment of ecosystems and the quantification of their water needs. 4. Capacities are build at various levels to ensure a balanced implementation of appropriate technologies. This involves development of training tailored to the requirements at the various levels and on-site development of new techniques related to water use and management through ■learning-by- doing■. 5. Communities are highly involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of water recources management schemes through an adequate representation within the various institutions. This requires a considerable change in decision making strategies, internal communication and organisational capacities of these institutions and improving capacities to resolve conflicts at the various levels. 6. Partnerships are established that support the development of coherence between planning and management of water resources. The establishment of inter-sectoral teams to develop policy and planning tools and multi-stakeholder teams for programme definition, co-ordination, implementation and evaluation are essential elements for this. 7. 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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30