Conclusions

Estuarine and coastal habitats are increasingly degraded worldwide. Ecohydrology demonstrates unambiguously that the land, the river, the estuary, and coastal waters are components of the same ecosys tem. They are connected through a number of physical and biological processes that determine environmental health. Traditionally, the estuarine management strat egy relies on technology and engineering fixes and it neglects ecohydrology principles; these strategies invariably fail to maintain ecosystem health and the ecological services that these ecosystems provide. Coastal coral reef management strategies worldwide also neglect ecohydrology science and also invariably fail. Ecohydrology science offers a number of solutions, including top down and bottom up ecological manipu lation as well as the use of created or restored wetlands to help restore the health of estuarine and coastal waters. Combined with some technological fixes, such as the creation of freshets and smarter land use, ecohy drology science offers an ecologically sustainable management strategy for estuaries and coral refs. Worldwide the implementation of this science based strategy will most likely stall, and estuaries and coastal waters will continue to degrade, until a political solu tion is found to the quagmire (i.e., the present estuarine and coastal management framework) which basically ignores ecosystem ecology.

Estuarine and coastal areas suffer an increasing pres sure from anthropogenic activities. Modifications of physical and chemical parameters affect biodiversity and hamper the traditional uses and services by local popula tions. Estuarine and coastal management relied, traditionally, on technology and engineering fixes, neglecting the ecological equilibrium of the systems. Alternatively, ecohydrology science, based on the inter play between hydrology and ecology, offers a number of sustainable and long lasting solutions to increase the robustness and to restore the health of estuarine and coastal waters. Estuarine ecohydrology models aiming to facilitate the interaction between scientists, economists, the public, and decision makers have been developed and verified for a few ecosystems, recently for the Guadiana Estuary in Portugal and Darwin Harbor and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, under a scientific program sup ported by UNESCO ROSTE, NOAA, AIMS, and the University of Algarve/CCMAR.

Death

Crown-of-thorns starfish

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