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Going with the flow?: The need for more holistic, data-led freshwater policy

December 14, 2011

Leafpack in the Cuisance River (France). Image: Núria Bonada

A new publication by BioFresh partners Dr Paul Jepson and Rob St.John at The University of Oxford argues that freshwater ecosystems should be given more attention by policy makers in order to balance the needs of the many users of freshwater with the need for ecosystem conservation.  The article “Going with the flow?: The need for more holistic, data-led freshwater policy” is the environmental lead feature in the most recent edition of Public Service Review: European Science and Policy (14).  The article is available as a web page here and as an interactive online magazine (p134) here.  The piece also features some beautiful photography by BioFresh scientists Núria Bonada and Sonja Stendara.

The authors argue that: “given that water is a dynamic, transboundary resource with multiple uses, meanings and types of management, freshwater biodiversity conservation is in need of increased attention from policymakers – not only for moral or aesthetic reasons – but also potentially for its role in maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services”.

At the risk of an obvious pun, water is a fluid resource.  It is used for energy production, irrigation, drinking water, washing, recreation (the list goes on…).  Water underpins and sustains our lives.  The article argues that this wide range of uses means that more economically-orientated uses such as irrigation or energy production may overshadow the need for ecosystem conservation for the sake of biodiversity or recreation in policy making.

Given this, the article suggests that there is the need for more holistic, strengthened approaches to freshwater ecosystem policy.  However, this holistic, transboundary approach to freshwater policy making will require more detailed and joined up information on the trends, status and distribution of freshwater biodiversity.  This is the primary goal of the BioFresh project, which you can find out more about here: freshwaterbiodiversity.eu

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