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The ecosystems approach to water management. The main features of the ecosystems concept

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Abstract

This paper summarizes the conceptual basis for ecosystemic water management, principally as it is discernible through a series of discussion papers contributed to the UN/ECE Seminar held in Oslo in May, 1991. The ‘ecosystems approach’ seeks the objective management of water quality in lakes and river catchments, the sustainable exploitation of water resources (sensu lato) and the maintenance of biodiversity within aquatic catchments. It also seeks an attitude founded upon the sharing of habitat with other ecosystem components and the minimization of human impact. Moreover, there is no final condition: rather, there is an ethos always to improve performance. Emphasis is nevertheless placed on the unevolved, subclimactic state in which many ecosystems find themselves and the elasticity of structure which this imparts and which may, within limits, be exploited. Methods for assessing environmental quality and for measuring the performance of corrective management are briefly discussed. Future progress is suggested to be less than easy but proper ecosystemic attitudes and approaches are seen to be essential ingredients if past mistakes are to be overcome.

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Reynolds, C.S. The ecosystems approach to water management. The main features of the ecosystems concept. J Aquat Ecosyst Stress Recov 2, 3–8 (1993) doi:10.1007/BF00043328

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Keywords

  • drainage basin
  • water quality
  • management
  • sustainability
  • restoration