Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Integration of environmental flow assessment and freshwater conservation planning: a new era in catchment management

J. L. Nel A F , E. Turak B C , S. Linke D and C. Brown E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIR, PO Box 320, Stellenbosch 7130, South Africa.

B New South Wales Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, 59–61 Goulburn Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

C Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

D Australian Rivers Institute, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

E Southern Waters Ecological Research and Consulting, Freshwater Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa.

F Corresponding author. Email: JNel@csir.co.za

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(3) 290-299 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF09318
Submitted: 26 December 2009  Accepted: 17 September 2010   Published: 18 March 2011

Abstract

Integrated water resources management offers an ideal platform for addressing the goals of freshwater conservation and climate change adaptation. Environmental flow assessment and systematic conservation planning have evolved separately in respective aquatic and terrestrial realms, and both are central to freshwater conservation and can inform integrated water resources management. Integrating these two approaches is mutually beneficial. Environmental flow assessment considers dynamic flow regimes, measuring social, economic and ecological costs of development scenarios. Conservation planning systematically produces different conservation scenarios that can be used in assessing these costs. Integration also presents opportunities to examine impacts of climate change on conservation of freshwater ecosystems. We review progress in environmental flow assessment and freshwater conservation planning, exploring the mutual benefits of integration and potential ways that this can be achieved. Integration can be accomplished by using freshwater conservation planning outputs to develop conservation scenarios for assessment against different scenarios, and by assessing the extent to which each scenario achieves conservation targets. New tools that maximise complementarity by achieving conservation and flow targets simultaneously should also be developed.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, climate-change adaptation, integrated catchment management, integrated water resources management.


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