Establishment of the International Ural Sturgeon Park to Secure Sturgeon Conservation and to Facilitate Sustainable Integrated Water Management
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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 remaining in the Caspian basin unaltered sturgeon spawning habitats. To secure its further preservation the river basin ecosystem and human activities in the region must be managed in an integrated sustainable manner. 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” or 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. Using sturgeon species as a natural indicator and an incentive for transboundary IWRM cooperation in the Ural river basin is suggested. To secure basin IWRM and sturgeon stock restoration the Ural River Sturgeon International Park should be established. The Ural River Basin Project, which aims at the creation of such a Park, is described in this paper. Activities towards successful integrated water management in the Ural Park will not only work towards sustainable watershed management, but also secure preservation and restoration of sturgeon. Local communities (Cossacks) involvement in sturgeon conservation and water management also resolves social and economic problems by restoration of the traditional life style.
KeywordsWatershed river basin integrated water resource management indicator species integrated environmental assessment community-based environmental protection Ural river Cossacks integrated modelling uchug sturgeon beluga
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