Water conservation is a frequently discussed topic in terms of household use, government regulations, and agriculture and water management. As the global population increases, it is becoming more critical to manage water resources and the ecosystems that rely on them. An article found on the Science Daily discusses the components of a successful freshwater management plan and nine ways to save our waterways and fisheries.
“Humans have put key freshwater ecosystems at risk because of land development and the loss of the vegetation along rivers and streams.” says John Richardson, a professor in the Dept. of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Richardson is one of 15 freshwater biologists who created the framework to help protect fish and ecosystems into the future.
According to Richardson, “Humans also depend on these ecosystems for basic resources like clean drinking water and food as well as economic activity from the natural resource sector, tourism and more.”
Richardson and his colleagues created a framework of evidence-based principles that managers, policy makers and others could easily use in their work.
Richardson states the components of a successful freshwater management plan should include:
- Protect and restore habitats for fisheries
- Protect biodiversity as it enhances resilience and productivity
- Identify threats to ecosystem productivity
- Identify all contributions made by aquatic ecosystems
- Implement ecosystem based-management of natural resources while acknowledging the impact of humans
- Adopt a precautionary approach to management as we face uncertainty
- Embrace adaptive management — environments continue to change so research needs to be ongoing for scientific evidence-based decision making
- Define metrics that will indicate whether management plans are successful or failing
- Engage and consult with stakeholders
- Ensure that decision-makers have the capacity, legislation and authority to implement policies and management plans.
What are the 9 guiding principles as defined by Richardson and his colleagues?
- Acknowledge the physical and chemical limits of an ecosystem
- Population dynamics are at work and there needs to be a minimum number of fish for the population to survive
- Habitat quantity and quality are needed for fish productivity
- Connecting habitats is essential for movement of fish and their resources
- The success of freshwater species is influenced by the watershed
- Biodiversity enhances ecosystem resilience and productivity
- Global climate change affects local populations of fish
- Human impacts to the habitat affect future generations of fish
- Evolution is important to species survival
According to Richardson, “healthy freshwater ecosystems are shrinking and reports suggest that the animals that depend on them are becoming endangered or extinct at higher rates than marine or terrestrial species.”
What are your thoughts on how we can save our waterways?