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May / June 2003

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OPINION - Confusing Cause and Effect



Prepared by Heather MacKay, July 2001

In water resources management, available water resources are allocated between different needs and demands.  Where water is scarce this presents a considerable challenge.  Usually water is divided between different users - agriculture, industry, hydro-power generation, water supply, mining, transport requirements, tourism etc.  Often the water which is required for aquatic ecosystems is rather grudgingly allocated as an after-thought and often only after those making the allocations are forced to do so through regulatory requirements.  In recent years, however, riverine ecosystems have been increasingly identified as the 'source of the resource' which perform a number of tasks which are of great value and which are essential for the sustainability of the system.  

How much water is needed to sustain critical ecosystems?  How is this determined?  How is it controlled and monitored?  These are important questions for all water managers.  


1. What is an aquatic ecosystem?
2. Why is it important to have healthy functional aquatic ecosystems?
3. Why do aquatic ecosystems need water and how much do they need ?
4. How do we determine the water needs of aquatic ecosystems ?
5. Methodologies for determination of water allocations to wetland ecosystems
        5a. Rapid methods
        5b. Comprehensive methods
6. How do we manage water allocations for aquatic ecosystems ?

Hard-copy references
WWW references
Related Events
Who is going what?


This feature on water for ecosystems consists of a short review article introducing the topic and providing some background, plus a list of useful hard-copy references and web-based documents. The feature will stay "live" for as long as the issue of water for ecosystems is topical (it’s a very hot issue right now in the water field) – as new information becomes available we will update the links and references.

Water for ecosystems is a fairly new issue, and scientific research in the field has only been really active for about the last 10 years. While there is quite a body of work reported in the scientific literature, the issue is only just beginning to surface in policy and law worldwide, and as yet there have been very few cases of real implementation of water allocations for aquatic ecosystems.

The Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention have recognised the issue of water for ecosystems to be important, and guidelines on management of water allocations for wetland ecosystems are currently being drafted for possible adoption at the next Conference of Parties. The report of the World Commission on Dams strongly supports the determination of environmental water requirements and incorporation of these requirements into the operating rules of dams. Principles and guidelines are provided in their report (see below for link).

1. What is an aquatic ecosystem?

Aquatic ecosystems take many shapes and forms. At the largest scale, a whole river catchment from the mountains to the sea is a single ecosystem by itself, linked to other catchment ecosystems through terrestrial corridors, atmospheric corridors and subterranean corridors. Usually however this is too large a scale for everyday operations, though it is useful for planning to think of a catchment as a whole ecosystem. Generally in water resources management, we identify and delineate smaller units as ecosystems. An ecosystem could be the size of the Okavango Delta, and in pristine condition or nearly so. An ecosystem could be the estuarine reaches of a river, or it could be a pan which receives only rain water, or a spring which is fed by groundwater. Some aquatic ecosystems can be entirely subterranean, such as the karst systems or those found in unconstructed aquifers. Aquatic ecosystems do not have to be unimpacted to have ecological value – urban rivers and water resources provide important green corridors and recreational areas, and have high amenity values for city dwellers, including transport, flood control, processing of biodegradable wastes and provision of water supply.

An ecosystem, whatever form it takes, is usually characterised by the ecological processes which occur within it and between that ecosystem and other neighbouring ecosystems. All the elements of the food chain should be present, including primary producers (single-celled organisms such as plankton), grazers (invertebrates), predators (from macrofauna such as shrimps through to tiger fish or crocodiles), and organisms such as bacteria which process waste products of the food chain back into material which the primary producers can consume. Sufficient suitable habitat (hydraulic habitat, physico-chemical habitat and geomorphological habitat) should be available for each member of the food chain to find a living space within which they can carry out their normal daily and seasonal functions.

2. Why is it important to have healthy functional aquatic ecosystems (not necessarily pristine ones )?

Ecosystem functions are crucial to human life. They provide many critical services to humans, such as:

We don’t have to maintain all aquatic ecosystems in pristine states to enjoy the benefits of these services – a healthy ecosystem with all the main components of habitat and food chain present will continue to provide selected functions which we can rely upon. The general rule is, the more natural the ecosystem, the more diverse the range of functions we can expect, but sometimes we want to concentrate on just a few of the ecological functions and so we manage the ecosystem for that e.g. if we manage an urban river primarily to remove flood waters, then we may not be too worried about providing habitat for invertebrates, but we would want the riparian vegetation and the banks to be in a good state and not be eroding or unstable. Another rather extreme example is that of an oxidation pond, where we encourage excessive growths of algae and of the bacteria which decompose waste, in order to process as much waste as possible, without being concerned about whether the water is also safe for swimming or for fish.

Because we don’t know what the next generation of people may need or want to get from ecosystems in terms of services, sustainability principles say that we should not rule out options for the future, i.e. we should not reduce the potential array of services which future generations may wish to access from an ecosystem. So when making management decisions, we should be trying to maintain aquatic ecosystems in as natural a state as is possible and practical, in order to maintain the potential for a diverse array of ecosystem functions and services. In many other countries (e.g. Germany) we see rivers which have been canalised and reduced to very artificial systems being returned to as natural a form as possible, in order to regenerate some of the ecosystem functions and services which have been lost over the centuries.

3. Why do aquatic ecosystems need water and how much do they need ?

As "renewable natural resources", water resources have a certain amount of resilience to the pressures and demands of utilisation by humans, since they are used to a certain amount of natural variability anyway. This resilience allows water resources to be utilised on a continuous basis, as long as the demands are not too great. However, if a water resource is over-utilised or allowed to degrade too far, (i.e. too much water is taken out, too much waste is put in, natural shape and structure are modified too greatly by erosion, sedimentation or habitat degradation), then the water ecosystem loses resilience and begins to break down. The ecological integrity of the resource can be damaged: once this happens, the capability of the resource to meet people's demands for utilisation can be reduced, or possibly even lost altogether. If the utilisation of water resources remains at a level within the limits which can protect ecological resilience, then that level of utilisation can be sustained indefinitely.

The water in an aquatic ecosystem is to the ecosystem as the air we breathe is to us. Aquatic organisms need water to provide habitat for them so that they can carry out their usual functions and provide the services we are used to: the water needs to be deep enough to fill pools and pans, or spill over rapids to provide fast-flowing, highly-oxygenated habitats, or recharge groundwater to provide saturated zones for plant roots or for specially adapted fauna. Water needs to be present or absent at the right times of the year: many organisms are adapted to expect a series of small floods (called freshets) at the beginning of the rainy season which signals to them that it is time to breed, before the bigger mid-season floods arrive. Migratory estuarine species need small pulses of freshwater to signal the start of migration and to provide direction. Some ecosystems are adapted to need flows to dry up completely each dry season – others cannot survive unless a certain amount of water is present in the dry season.

Of course, if the water is not of the right quality, aquatic ecosystem functions may also be compromised. For example, some ecosystems are adapted to water of naturally low pH due to the underlying geology: if the water becomes more alkaline due to discharge of factory effluents or perhaps leaching of salts from irrigated soils, this will affect the aquatic organisms. The more sensitive organisms may be lost from the system, along with the ecological functions that they support. If too much organic waste is put into a system, the bacteria which decompose waste may not be able to cope with the load: oxygen levels in the water may drop too low and only the toughest organisms (such as algae or catfish) can survive.

It is especially important to note that the water allocation to a water resource or to an aquatic ecosystem is not just the minimum water quantity and water quality required for protection of that ecosystem and its functions. For a water resource which is classified as being of high protection status, the water allocation would be set at a higher level, which would correspond to the idea of minimum risk and maximum caution. For a water resource which is assigned lower protection status, the allocation would be set at a level which should still afford protection to the resource, but without the benefit of the buffer which caution provides. The idea of classification of aquatic ecosystems according to protection status is developing worldwide, and a good example of a typical classification system can be found in the EU Water Framework Directive (see below for hyperlink).

Yet to assume that a "higher" allocation necessarily means that only a greater quantity of water is allocated to protection of the resource is somewhat simplistic. The assurance or reliability of water, especially under extreme climatic conditions, is just as critical an aspect of the allocation as the quantity and quality.

4. How do we determine the water needs of aquatic ecosystems ?

Available habitat is normally used as the basis for a determination of the water requirements of aquatic ecosystems. Surveys are undertaken to ascertain what ecological type of system is being dealt with, which representatives of all the trophic levels (levels in the food chain) are present and which are the important ecological cues or signals which must be provided by certain flows at certain times of the year. Ecologists can then make recommendations regarding what kinds and extent of habitats should be maintained i.e. sand, rocks, pools, riffles and runs, what flows are needed during the year to provide these habitats and what flow depths and velocities are needed in the river or estuary at representative control points. These habitat requirements are then translated into flows which must be released from a dam upstream or which must be present in the river at flow monitoring points after all offstream abstractions have been made. A modified flow regime is designed which will maintain certain selected ecosystem functions. The closer to natural this flow regime is, the more of the natural ecosystem functions can be retained.

Water quality requirements are also set on the basis of providing suitable habitat for aquatic organisms to grow through all life stages, feed and reproduce. Organisms which represent each trophic level are tested in the laboratory to determine what their tolerances are to different concentrations of the major water quality constituents, and how different concentrations of these constituents can affect growth, breeding and development. Concentrations which cause chronic and acute toxicity effects in various species of aquatic organisms are identified. Safe water quality levels are determined which will provide adequate protection for all the levels of the food chain - sometimes these levels are set very stringently (such as the No Observed Effects Level), at other times more risk of adverse effects on aquatic organisms may be accepted in order to allow more impacts of utilisation by humans.

Since aquatic ecosystems are each unique, in hydrological, biophysical and ecological terms, water allocations which are set for one ecosystem can very seldom be applied directly to another ecosystem, even one of the same ecological type. Natural site-specific differences must be taken into account. It is the concepts of levels of risk, and levels of protection, which are generally applicable, rather than numerical objectives themselves. In only a few cases (such as for persistent toxic substances) would it be practical to set numerical objectives which would be applicable to all water resources of a particular class or protection status wherever they were geographically located. For example, a concentration of a substance which poses only a slight risk to a particular ecosystem in one geographical region may result in a much higher risk in another geographical region, depending on the resilience of the adapted ecosystem, the background quality of the water, and the natural flow regime.

Although there are very few numerical objectives, for water quantity or water quality, which would be generally applicable to all ecosystems, there are generic processes available for determining site-specific water quantity and quality requirements. A range of such processes has been developed over recent years, as there has been a growth in research into methods for determination of "environmental flows".

5. Methodologies for determination of water allocations to wetland ecosystems

In keeping with the ecosystem approach, any generic process to determine water allocations for aquatic ecosystems should be consistent the principles of integrated environmental management. Recommended design specifications for methodologies to determine water allocations for aquatic ecosystems include:

5a. Rapid methods

There are many rapid methods available for estimation of water allocations for wetland ecosystems (Tharme, 1996). ("Rapid" means at a desktop level.) Most of these methods are based on the establishment of an empirical relationship between the flow in a river or channel (as water volume per unit time), and the resulting structure and function of the associated aquatic ecosystem. These methods generally require hydrological data for virgin and present-day runoff, with at least annual resolution. Some methods attempt to provide greater accuracy by linking various hydrological statistics to ecosystem structure and function, but in either case the methods are usually subjective and provide only coarse answers, at the resolution of annual volumes, or average monthly flows. Neither annual nor monthly resolution is sufficient for actually managing flow releases for wetland ecosystems, but this kind of information can be very useful in planning at the macro scale.

One of the best-known rapid methodologies is the so-called "Montana method" (Tennant, 1976), in which the proportion of the virgin mean annual runoff provided to a river ecosystem can be related empirically to the ecological condition of that ecosystem. This methodology relies on observations of ecological condition made by its developer in many North American rivers. The method is suitable only for northern temperate ecosystems, and can not be applied with confidence elsewhere, especially in ecosystems where flows are strongly seasonal. However, a modified version was developed in South Africa recently (DWAF, 1999) based on experience from local studies, and has been extensively used for planning purposes and in the scoping phase of EIA.

5b. Comprehensive methods

A range of methods exists for determination of water allocations for aquatic ecosystems which can provide answers at a higher spatial and temporal resolution than the rapid methods described above. Spatial resolution is at river reach level or smaller, temporal resolution ranges from monthly to daily flows. Application of these methods in a specific river system can take anywhere from several months to several years, since they are generally data-intensive, require detailed ecological and hydrological surveys, and usually involve multi-disciplinary teams in numerical modelling studies.

Many of these methods use habitat-based endpoints: ecologists provide recommendations regarding the extent, distribution and character of available habitat which is required to maintain or protect certain ecological functions or key species, and then determine, with the help of hydrologists, the necessary magnitude, frequency, duration and timing of flows which will provide these habitats. Two aspects of habitat, viz. hydraulic and geomorphological habitat, are usually addressed in the determination process, with physico-chemical habitat sometimes being integrated into a determination. Typically, a determination involves intensive hydraulic calibration and modelling to convert the ecological parameters of water depth, wetted perimeter and velocity at key sites in the river system to the hydrological parameters of flow rate and flow volume.

The best-documented examples of more comprehensive methods are the Building Block Methodology (BBM: King, Tharme & de Villiers, 2000) which was developed and has been extensively applied in South Africa, the Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM) which is widely used in the USA, and the holistic approach, which has been applied in Australia (Tharme, 1996). Recently, the new DRIFT method has been applied in the Lesotho Highlands; this is a follow-on from the BBM, developed by the same group of scientists.

6. How do we manage water allocations for aquatic ecosystems ?

Once a water allocation has been determined for an ecosystem, the water must be provided at the times and rates specified. Sometimes releases are made from a dam specifically for the ecosystems downstream – measurements taken at a control point such as a flow monitoring station are used to check that the correct flows are being released, but if the dam is far upstream there may be losses of water along the way, due to evapotranspiration, evaporation, abstraction or seepage into groundwater. In other cases, if there is no dam present the water allocation for the ecosystem is used to determine how much water can be abstracted along the run of the river, and abstraction licensing conditions are set accordingly.

If the natural flow regime is to be followed as closely as possible, then flows should be released at appropriate times so as to match the natural ecological cues and signals. A flow gauging station upstream of a dam may be used to determine when a release should be made from the dam for the ecosystems downstream. After rain, if the flow into the dam begins to increase naturally, then it is time to release the flow for the ecosystems downstream of the dam to mimic natural conditions. Likewise in drought conditions, if the whole area is undergoing a natural drought, then flows for the ecosystem are reduced accordingly.

Hard-copy references

Tharme R (1996). Review of international methodologies for the quantification of the instream flow requirements of rivers. Draft report to the Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tennant DL (1976). Instream flow regimens for fish, wildlife, recreation and related environmental resources. Fisheries 1(4): 6-10.

DWAF (1999). Resource Directed Measures for Protection of Water Resources: Volume 2 Integrated Manual, Volume 3 River Ecosystems, Volume 4 Wetland Ecosystems, Volume 5 Estuarine Ecosystems, Volume 6 Groundwater Component. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South Africa.

King, Tharme & de Villiers (2000). Environmental Flow Assessments for Rivers: Manual for the Building Block Methodology. Water Research Commission Report NO TT131/00, Pretoria, South Africa. Available on request from the Water Research Commission www.wrc.org.za See also the Water Research Commission’s reports page for a list of other recent publications on water for ecosystems. http://www.wrc.org.za/wrcpublications/wrcresreports/ecosystems.htm

WWW references

 A general review of current and emerging management issues in Florida, including the governmental statement of the need for water for ecosystem function and general protection of water for environmental needs. http://www.ces.fau.edu/library/pdf/flwaterpol.pdf  

A general management appraisal of water needs for the environment and associated wildlife in Nevada. http://www.state.nv.us/cnr/ndwp/wat-plan/pt3-3b.pdf  

This report (2000) focuses on the role of forests in water supply-including quantity, quality, timing of release, forests, flood reductions and low flow augmentation, economic value of water from national forest lands, and economic benefits of tree cover for stormwater reduction in urban areas. http://www.fs.fed.us/pub/water/water.pdf  

"Ensuring Environmental Quality in Water Resources Projects", a report from the World Bank. Issues of management are discussed with reference to flows related to dams in Nepal and the Lesotho Highlands. http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/essd/essd.nsf/a95275735facede4852569970057eeb2/ef13202dc255968585256a31006f18ae/$FILE/HRW+article.pdf  

Protecting instream flows: How much water does a river need ? A module of a training program developed by the USEPA. http://www.epa.gov/watertrain/river/index.html  

Summary table showing regime characteristics, streamflow parameters, examples of Eco-system influences and flow discharge conditions. This table forms part of the USEPA training program. http://www.epa.gov/watertrain/river/table1.html  

A report on water requirements for inland aquaculture and aquatic ecosystems including: fish farms, planning for resource management and general information by the European Fisheries Advisory Commission. Case studies on American, Czech, and Australian inland fisheries. http://www.fao.org/fi/body/eifac/1998rep1.asp  

The overview report of the World Commission on Dams. http://www.dams.org/report/wcd_overview.htm  

The specific flow requirements for fish in estuarine and marine ecosystems in Queensland, Australia are examined in this paper. http://www.dnr.qld.gov.au/resourcenet/water/wrp/pdf/burnett/vol2/AppJ.pdf  

Water allocation criteria and water quality needed for the ecosystems associated with the river Murray are reported. The volume and timing of the water requirement relative to water allocation needs is also discussed for lakes, river channels, wetlands, and floodplains associated with the Murray River. www.rivermurray.sa.gov.au/pdfs/wap.pdf  

This report (1998) attempts to integrate concepts of water supply, planning, analytical hydraulic engineering models, water use and instream flow issues. The method used based on case studies in Virginia is called the Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM). http://va.water.usgs.gov/online_pubs/WRIR/98-4157text.pdf  

At this site a hand book is available on recommended methods for water data acquisition. http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/chapter11/chapter11B.html  

This report details the "DRIFT" method (process) for measuring downstream response to imposed flow transformation ecosystem functioning. DRIFT is a data management tool utilising 7 academic disciplines to allow the exploration of river flow and importance to ecosystem function. www.southernwaters.co.za/drift.pdf  

This paper discusses the scientific basis for determination of water quality and quantity requirements of aquatic ecosystems. Methodologies in practice and applications are discussed. http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za/IWQS/wrmais/other/hmackay_iahs2001.pdf  

The UK freshwater report is mentioned here (www.environment-agency.uk/yourenv/139058/issues/138025)   but is available in hard copy only from the UKEA office. Presently being developed electronically at  http://www2.environment-agency.tv/ye/qa-ea-doc/state_of_enviro/index3above.html

South African Water Policy  http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za/Documents/Policies/nwpwp.PDF

South African Water Act (particularly Chapter 3)  http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za/Documents/Legislature/nw_act/nwa.pdf

The recent EU Framework Directive on Water (Directive 2000/60/EC), which includes a detailed classification system for water resources, based on ecological condition http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/dat/2000/en_300L0060.html

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s Cap on river diversions in order to protect the riverine environment http://www.mdbc.gov.au/about/governance/schedule%5Ff.html

The South Australia Water Plan, which is a very good example of policy on water for ecosystems http://www.dwr.sa.gov.au/#swp2000

The Department of Water Affairs in South Africa published Version 1.0 of its Resource Directed Measures for Protection of Water Resources, which includes methods for determination of the water requirements of riverine ecosystems, wetland ecosystems, estuarine ecosystems and the groundwater component of these, downloadable from  http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za/Documents/Policies/WRPP/

Development of minimum water level criteria for the Everglades Protection Area http://www.ces.fau.edu/library/flms/19.html 

The Queensland government has published several Water Management Plans which have specific provisions for the environment http://www.dnr.qld.gov.au/resourcenet/water/ 


Related Events

· An international working conference Environmental Flows for River Systems, which incorporates the Fourth International Ecohydraulics Symposium. Cape Town, March 2002. http://www.southernwaters.co.za/conference/index.html

A conference on "Managing River Flows for Biodiversity" was held in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA in July 2001. Several case studies of provision and management of river flows for aquatic ecosystems were discussed in detail. The conference agenda gives a description of each case study, and the names of contact people can be gleaned from this. www.freshwaters.org/conference/ 


Who’s Doing What ?

This is a new section which will be added to all features, and which we would like to develop as time goes on. The aim is to provide a list of people or groups which are working in a specific field, to make it easier to establish contact with other researchers or colleagues, in government, universities, NGO sector or the private sector who might be able to collaborate or provide information. If you would like to be added to this list, please email hmackay@global.co.za, providing the website address of your group plus two to three sentences about who you are and what you do, and maybe list a couple of your key project areas. If you don’t have a website, then please provide the name and email address of the relevant contact person.


Centre for Catchment and Instream Research, Griffith University, Brisbane. Research and consultancy projects on flow requirements of instream biota. http://www.gu.edu.au/centre/ccisr/

 South Africa

 Institute for Water Research, Rhodes University. Research and consultancy on water requirements (water quantity and water quality) for aquatic ecosystems. Research into the structure, function and components of natural water systems; Contract and consulting projects aimed at solving specific water-related problems; Teaching at all levels within Rhodes University; Dissemination of information by written articles and public lectures; Service on research and management committees outside Rhodes University; Capacity building and community education for the water sector http://www.ru.ac.za/institutes/iwr/index.html

Southern Waters cc. Affiliated to the University of Cape Town. Southern Waters has a great deal of knowledge on the nature, condition, functioning and management of rivers and other inland waters.  Also experienced in environmental flows assessments (EFAs) of different types and resolution, for rivers and wetlands.  Key projects: Lesotho Highlands EFA; Worldbank EFA Guidelines; Breede River Reserve Determination; Buffers for Cape Town Wetlands and Rivers; Olifants/Doring Fish Surveys; EMP for Zeekoevlei. http://www.southernwaters.co.za/index.html

Institute for Water Quality Studies, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South Africa. http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za/IWQS/ This group manages the national water quality monitoring networks for South Africa, and a large amount of data on South African water resources is available on their web site.

River Health Programme, South Africa. This monitoring programme primarily makes use of biological indicators in the form of measurement indices (e.g. for fish communities, riparian vegetation and aquatic invertebrate fauna) to assess the condition or health of river systems. The goal of the RHP is to serve as a source of information regarding river health in support of: a) developing an overall picture of the state of the nation's rivers (as a means of auditing the effectiveness of river management policies and actions); b) ecologically sound and strategic management of rivers in South Africa b) informing and educating the people of South Africa regarding the health of our rivers. The page includes information on past and future state-of-rivers (SoR) reports, provincial implementation agencies, technical reports (several PDF documents) and background to the design and implementation of the programme. http://www.csir.co.za/rhp/


Water Research Commission: The Water Research Commission's task is to coordinate and fund local research, addressing the whole water spectrum. Researchers, academics, consultants and individuals annually submit proposals for new research projects to be funded by the WRC. Results of research projects are released in the form of research and technical reports, software, manuals, workshops, maps, GIS, etc. More details available at www.wrc.org.za

The Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State runs a two-year, part-time coursework Masters programme in Environmental Management, which allows students to specialise in Biomonitoring and Conservation; Pollution Control and Rehabilitation; or Environmental Communication. Research by the Centre concentrates on the biomonitoring of highly seasonal and regulated rivers, including geomorphology, riparian vegetation, nutrient chemistry and algae, macroinvertebrates (SASS) and fish."

Laughing Waters Aquatic Research, Consulting and Media

Mandy C Uys (PhD) laughingH2O@icon.co.za
Consultancy: River ecology, environmental monitoring, environmental flows, impact assessment. Researching and specialising in: River rehabilitation.

The African Water Issues Research Unit (AWIRU) at Pretoria University is specifically interested in building capacity in the field of the social and political aspects of water. Current projects include a WDM study in Botswana and Zambia, a book on hydropolitics, a hydropolitical history of South Africa's international river basins, a project on the Okavango Basin, and a host of other smaller projects. The Website address is http://www.up.ac.za/academic/libarts/polsci/awiru (or simply type AWIRU into your search engine).

JLB Smith Institute for Ichthyology, Grahamstown. Our website address is http://www.jlbsmith.ru.ac.za or www.saiab.ru.ac.za and you'll find "who's doing what?" under the annual research report (pdf file) which you can find under 'documentation' (left hand column).

Biological Sciences at the University of Venda: several staff members are involved in water and related subjects.
Prof Ben van der Waal (bcw@univen.ac.za)- Wetlands and fish (and specifically fish as a resource to local communities)
Prof Ian Gaigher (igaigher@univen.ac.za)- fish distribution and Fish as indicators of biotic integrity.
Mr. Stefan Foord(sfoord@univen.ac.za)- biomonitoring (SASS) 
Paul Fouche (pso@univen.ac.za) - biomonitoring (Riparian Vegetation Indices and Fish Assemblage Index of Integrity)

The Freshwater Research Unit, Dept. Zoology, University Of Cape Town, is a group of academic and research staff, as well as post-graduate students. We offer courses in limnology and management of freshwater resources and conduct ongoing research projects into many topics including:- environmental flow requirements, integration of water quality and quantity, biomonitoring, river rehabilitation, classification of wetlands.
Website address: http://www.uct.ac.za./depts/zoology/docs/fresh.html

University of the North We have a project on the Nyl Flood plain, looking at water quality and related biota, looking at pollution and its effects. Also try to get a biomonitoring system, similar to River Health Program going. Website: www.unorth.ac.za (not fully functional yet!)

Streamflow Solutions cc.

River hydraulics with particular application for assessing the environmental flow requirements of rivers and wetlands.  Effect of flow regulation and management on geomorphological change within fluvial environments.

Dr Drew Birkhead streamflow@icon.co.za


Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre
University Of Botswana
P/Bag 285 Maun, Botswana
Tel: +267-661833 Fax: +267-661835 e-mail: hoorc@orc.info.bw


Kevin Roberts and Klaudia Schachtschneider (robertsk@mawrd.gov.na) (schachtschneiderk@mawrd.gov.na)
Ecology Section, Division Resource Management, Department of Water Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture,Water and Rural Development.
Studies include: Namibian wetlands inventory and data collection.
Ephemeral River vegetation monitoring (Ugab River) Kunene River aquatic fauna surveys.
Opportunistic invertebrate or sediment collecting from ephemeral wetlands countrywide.

Dr Rob Simmons (harrier@iafrica.com.na)
Namibian National Biodiversity Programme, Ministry of Environment & Tourism,
Research programmes on:
Sandwich Harbour avifauna, ecology and morphological variation
Comparison of the avifauna of Namibia’s rivers (particularly Orange and Cunene)
Lake Liambezi and Chobe River birds
Long-term data base on avifauna of all Namibian wetlands
Ecology and conservation of coastal avifauna, particularly Damara Terns
Population ecology and conservation of flamingos on Etosha Pan

Dr. Clinton J. Hay
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Private Bag 2116, Mariental, Namibia
Fish ecological studies on the Lower Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Chobe, Upper Zambezi and Kwando Rivers.
Radio telemetry studies on the Okavango and Zambezi Rivers.
Study of the fishery in the Caprivi
Study on the fish population of lake Liambezi.
Regional fish surveys in the Okavango delta and the Upper Zambezi River in Zambia planned for next year.
Community catch data collection project at Impalila Island

Dr. O.V.Msiska. (omsiska@mail.unam.na)
University of Namibia
The utilization of wetlands for aquaculture with reference to oyster farming in salt pans at Walvis Bay lagoon and freshwater dams.
Breeding aspects of the inshore fishery of kob

Holger Kolberg (metrepr@iafrica.com.na)
Principal Conservation Biologist, Ministry of Environment & Tourism,
Inventory and Bibliography of Namibia wetlands
Ramsar convention - designation of wetlands and publicity
Cross-border parks including Orange and Cunene Rivers

Mike Griffin (ssaurus@iafrica.com.na)
Senior Conservation Biologist, Ministry of Environment & Tourism
Inventory of wetland-associated mammals in Namibia
Inventory of wetland-associated amphibians in Namibia


Artemis Services provide consulting services, especially in Africa, for the conservation and development sector in project and programme evaluations, strategic planning, training in project design and project cycle management, research on freshwater conservation issues, etc.
Web site: http://www.artemis-services.com


BIOTICA Ecological Society www.biotica-moldova.org The contact person is Ilya Trombitsky E-mail: paolo@mdearn.cri.md


Eco-TIRAS International Environmental Association of the River Keepers www.eco-tiras.org
The contact person is Ilya Trombitsky E-mail: paolo@mdearn.cri.md


The educational nonprofit Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife www.beaversww.org assists in restoring and maintaining beaver wetlands by researching and explaining lasting, cost-effective methods of coexistence. Contact Sharon Brown E-mail beavers@telenet.net


Landscape Development Interventions Program. The main objective of our program is to reduce rural poverty through agricultural intensification and sustainable management of natural resources, while protecting the highland rainforest corridor that connects the Zahamena and Andasibe National Parks. To this end, we work in 5 main areas: agricultural intensification, conservation enterprise development, community based natural resource management, local capacity building and have on going cross-cutting activities in rural credit, farm input supply centers and research/demonstration/training for the farmers working with our program. Contact Fanantenana R. Andrianaivotiana FRA@chemonics.mg 


Wetlands International-Malaysia programme is the only non-profit and non-governmental organisation in Malaysia dedicated to maintaining the fundamental science that underpins national efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, their species, habitats and water resources. The mission of Wetlands International-Malaysia is "to sustain and restore wetlands, their resources and biodiversity for future generations through research, information exchange and conservation activities, in Malaysia". Sound technical information is the basis for the work of Wetlands International-Malaysia, which includes co-ordinating conservation; production of educational materials; management and assessment projects at national level; providing technical and fundraising support to national and local projects; and helping to build the capacity of relevant agencies. Wetlands International-Malaysia produces a range of publications and awareness materials, and organises numerous workshops, training courses and conferences each year. Contact Sim Cheng Hua (Ms.) Email: sim@wiap.nasionet.net

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