Sustainable Development of Watersheds: Using Sturgeon Species as an Indicator in Integrated Transboundary Water Management in the Ural River Basin

Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series book series (NAPSC)


River basins are the most appropriate geographical units for considering the management of water resources. At the same time rivers and their associated ecosystems and biodiversity provide the basis of life for a large portion of the world’s population. Though there is now an international consensus on the need for an integrated approach to sustainable river basin management, there is no standard definition of the term “sustainable” nor consensus on how to reach this state.

Sustainable development of watersheds should consider three main components: economic, social and environmental, which can hardly be reached in real-life watershed management. One of the problems is the selection of sustainable watershed management indicators.

Using sturgeon species as a natural indicator and an incentive for transboundary IWRM cooperation in the Ural river basin is suggested. The only free-flowing river in the Caspian basin, the Ural River, is a unique ecosystem with a preserved natural hydrological regime and the last sturgeon spawning habitats.

Activities towards successful integrated water management will not only work towards sustainable watershed management, but also secure preservation and restoration of sturgeon, this worldwide flagship species. Community-based management of sturgeon stocks also resolves social and economic problems by restoration of the traditional life style of local communities.

High economic and social values of sturgeon allow the combination of both ecological and socio-economic aspects of sustainable development. Investment in IWRM and sturgeon conservation can be largely repaid later by “sustainable extraction” of sturgeon.

The Ural River Basin Project, which aims at sustainable watershed management and sturgeon restoration, is described in this paper. Special attention is paid to integrated assessment and modelling of the Ural river ecosystem.


Watershed management river basin integrated water resource management indicator species sturgeon community-based environmental protection Ural river Cossacks integrated modelling 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anthony, J.A., Abdulrahman, S.A., et al. 2003. Integrated water resources management is more a political than a technical challenge. In Developments in water science. ed., 9-23. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  2. Aspinall, R. and Pearson, D. 2000. Integrated geographical assessment of environmental condition in water catchments: Linking landscape ecology, environmental modelling and GIS. Journal of Environmental Management 59(4): 299-319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BBC. 2007. Russia’s Cossacks Rise Again. [on-line] BBC News. [cited 10 November 2007].
  4. Caviaremptor. 2004. Current Status of Beluga Sturgeon. Summary of Scientific Literature. [on-line] Caviaremptor. [cited April 2004].
  5. Chaves, H.M.L. and Alipaz, S. 2007. An integrated indicator based on basin hydrology, envi-ronment, life, and policy: the watershed sustainability index. Water Resource Management 21: 883-895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. CITES. 2003. Sturgeons of Romania and CITES. [on-line] Black Sea Sturgeon Management Action Group. 30/06/03. [cited 1 May 2004]. CITES. 2004. A Brief History of Sturgeons and CITES. [on-line] Steering Committee. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. [cited April 2004].
  7. Cowx, I.G., Almeida, O., Bene, C, Brummett, R., Bush, S., Darwall, W, Pittock, J. and van Brakel, M. 2004. Value of river fisheries. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Management of Large Rivers for Fisheries Sustaining Livelihoods and Biodiversity in the New Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.Google Scholar
  8. Dulvy, N.K., Sadovy, Y., et al. 2003. Extinction vulnerability in marine populations. Fish Fisheries 4(1): 25-64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. European Union Water Framework Directive. 2000. European Union.Google Scholar
  10. FAO. 2007. The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2006. Rome: FAO Fisheries Department.Google Scholar
  11. Fohrer, N. 2005. Advances in sustainable river basin management. Ecological Modelling 187(1): 1.Google Scholar
  12. Giupponi, C. 2007. Decision support systems for implementing the European water frame-work directive: the MULINO approach. Environmental Modelling & Software 22(2): 248-258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harris, G. 2002. Integrated assessment and modelling: an essential way of doing science. Environmental Modelling & Software 17(3): 201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. He, C., Malcolm, S.B., et al. 2000. A conceptual framework for integrating hydrological and bio-logical indicators into watershed management. Landscape and Urban Planning 49(1-2): 25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hedelin, B. 2007. Criteria for the assessment of sustainable water management. Environmental Management 39 : 151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. IUCN. 2007. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
  17. Jakeman, A.J. and Letcher, R.A. 2003. Integrated assessment and modelling: features, princi-ples and examples for catchment management. Environmental Modelling & Software 18(6): 491-501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jansky, L., Pachova, N.I., et al. 2004. The Danube: a case study of sharing international waters. Global Environmental Change Part A 14(Supplement 1): 39-49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Janssen, W. and Goldsworthy, P. 1996. Multidisciplinary research for natural resource man-agement: conceptual and practical implications. Agricultural Systems 51(3): 259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jewitt, G. 2002. Can integrated water resources management sustain the provision of eco-system goods and services? Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C 27(11-22): 887-895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jonker, L. 2002. Integrated water resources management: theory, practice, cases. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C 27(11-22): 719-720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jonsson, B., Waples, R.S., et al. 1999. Extinction considerations for diadromous fishes. ICES Journal of Marine Science 56(4): 405-409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Keyl, F. and Wolff, M. 2007. Environmental variability and fisheries: what can models do? Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. doi: 10.1007/s11160-007-9075-5.Google Scholar
  24. Kgarebe, B.V. 2002. Water resources management: the challenge of integration. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C 27(11-22): 865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Krysanova, V., Hattermann, F., et al. 2007. Implications of complexity and uncertainty for integrated modelling and impact assessment in river basins. Environmental Modelling & Software 22(5): 701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lagutov, V. 2003. Modelling of radionuclides washout with surface water runoffs from radioac-tive waste storage site. Luxenburg, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.Google Scholar
  27. Lagutov, V.V. 1996. Imitacionnoe modelirovanie zhiznennogo tsikla osetroviuh v bas-seine reki Don. [SImulation of Sturgeon Life Cycle in the Don River Basin]. M.Sc. thesis, Department of Applied Mathematics, South Russia State Technical University, Novocherkassk.Google Scholar
  28. Lagutov, V.V. 1997. Simulation Model as a Tool in Sustainable Water Management. M.Sc. thesis, Department of Environmental Sciences, Central European University, Budapest.Google Scholar
  29. Lagutov, Vladimir V. 1995. Mekhanizm unichtozheniya riubniuh zapasov Yuga Rossii i puti ih spaseniya [The mechanism of extermination of fish stocks in South Russia and possibilities of their restoration]. Novocherkassk, Donskaia Rech Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Lanini, S., Courtois, N., et al. 2004. Socio-hydrosystem modelling for integrated water-resources management-the Herault catchment case study, southern France. Environmental Modelling & Software 19(11): 1011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Larinier, M. 2000. Dams and fish migration. Toulouse, Institut de Mecanique des Fluides.Google Scholar
  32. Larocque, Guy R., Mauriello, Dave A., et al. 2006. Ecological models as decision tools in the 21st century: Proceedings of a conference organized by the International Society for Ecological Modelling (ISEM) in Quebec, Canada, August 22-24, 2004. Ecological Modelling 199(3): 217.Google Scholar
  33. Letcher, R.A., Croke, B.F.W., et al. 2007. Integrated assessment modelling for water resource allocation and management: a generalised conceptual framework. Environmental Modelling & Software 22(5): 733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu, Y., Guo, H., et al. 2007. An optimization method based on scenario analysis for water-shed management under uncertainty. Environmental Management 39: 678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mysiak, J., Giupponi, C., et al. 2005. Towards the development of a decision support system for water resource management. Environmental Modelling & Software 20(2): 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Parker, P., Letcher, R., et al. 2002. Progress in integrated assessment and modelling. Environmental Modelling & Software 17(3): 209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pullar, D. and Springer, D. 2000. Towards integrating GIS and catchment models. Environmental Modelling & Software 15(5): 451-459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. RAMSAR. 2002. Sustainable Management of Water Resources: The Need for a Holistic Ecosystem Approach Running out of Freshwater or Maintaining Freshwater through a Ecosystem Based Approach - An Easy Choice. 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Valencia, Spain, 2005.Google Scholar
  39. Raymakers, C. and Hoover, C. 2002. Acipenseriformes: CITES implementation from Range States to consumer countries. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 18(4-6): 629-638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Refsgaard, J.C., Nilsson, B., et al. 2005. Harmonised techniques and representative river basin data for assessment and use of uncertainty information in integrated water management (HarmoniRiB). Environmental Science & Policy 8(3): 267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. RF. 2007. ВОДHЫЙ КОДЕКС РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ. (Water Code of the Russian Federation) 2007. Legal Information Consortium «Kodeks» (in Russian)Google Scholar
  42. Scoccimarro, M., Walker, A., et al. 1999. A framework for integrated catchment assessment in northern Thailand. Environmental Modelling & Software 14(6): 567-577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Semple, E.C.. 1907. Geographical boundaries. II. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 39(8): 449-463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sendzimir, J., Magnuszewski, P., et al. 2007. Anticipatory modeling of biocomplexity in the Tisza River Basin: First steps to establish a participatory adaptive framework. Environmental Modelling & Software 22(5): 599-609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shen, J., Parker, A., et al. 2005. A new approach for a Windows-based watershed modeling system based on a database-supporting architecture. Environmental Modelling & Software 20 (9): 1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith, F.D.M., May, R.M., et al. 1993. How much do we know about the current extinction rate? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 8(10): 375-378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stephan, T. and Wissel, C. 1999. The extinction risk of a population exploiting a resource. Ecological Modelling 115(2-3): 217-225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Suter I.I. and Glenn W. 1999. Developing conceptual models for complex ecological risk assessments. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment 5(2): 375-396.Google Scholar
  49. Thorsten, W., Eloy, R., et al. 2004. Dealing with uncertainty in spatially explicit population models. Biodiversity and Conservation 13(1): 53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. TRAFFIC. 2003. Bleak Outlook for World Caviar Trade: North America Sturgeon, Paddlefish Stocks at Risk.[on-line]22 May 2003. [cited 2004 April 20].
  51. Turnock, D. 2001. Cross-border conservation in East Central Europe: the Danube-Carpathian complex and the contribution of the World Wide Fund for Nature. GeoJournal 55(2-4): 655-681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. UNECE. 2003. Transboundary Water Cooperation in the newly independent States (NIS). Moscow-Geneva United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.Google Scholar
  53. UNECE. 2006. Preliminary assessment of the status of transboundary rivers discharging into the Caspian Sea and their major transboundary tributaries. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.Google Scholar
  54. UNECE. 2007. Transboundary accidental water pollution, liability and compensation: chal-lenges and opportunities. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Budapest. UNEP. 2004. Learning from Baia Mare. [on-line] The Environment Times. [cited 10 December 2007].
  55. Uralbas. 2007. Workshop Results. First International Ural Basin Workshop “Rescue of Sturgeon Species by means of Transboundary Integrated Water Management in the Ural River Basin”, Orenburg, Russia.Google Scholar
  56. van Delden, H., Luja, P., et al. 2007. Integration of multi-scale dynamic spatial models of socio-economic and physical processes for river basin management. Environmental Modelling & Software 22(2): 223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vidal, Jean-Philippe, Moisan, Sabine, et al. 2007. River model calibration, from guidelines to oper-ational support tools. Environmental Modelling & Software (in press), Corrected Proof. 422.Google Scholar
  58. Von Harthausen, August. 1972. Studies on the interior of Russia. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  59. WWF. 2002a. Sturgeon 2020. Initiative for Providing Habitats for Sturgeons. Program descrip-tion and schedule, Budapest, WWF.Google Scholar
  60. WWF. 2002b. WWF Factsheet: Sturgeon. The materials of 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, Santiago, 3-15 November 2002,Google Scholar
  61. WWF. 2003. Global 200. Blueprint for a Living Planet. [on-line] World Wildlife Fund. [cited April 2004].

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B. V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Sciences & Policy DepartmentCentral European UniversityHungary

Personalised recommendations