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Perceptions and interpretations of "environmental flows" and implications for future water resource management: A survey study
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies.
2004 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister)Student thesisAlternative title
Uppfattningar och tolkningar av "environmental flows" och betydelsen för framtida hantering av vattenresurserna: En enkät studie. (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

An understanding of the impacts on freshwater systems from water management and development practices and the recognition that freshwater ecosystems are dependent on various aspects of the natural hydrological variability has given rise to a relatively new field of science commonly referred to as environmental flows. The assessment and application of environmental flows has advanced considerably in the last ten years. To coincide with the emergence and expansion of the environmental flows concept around the world, this survey study was undertaken aiming to identify people’s perceptions and interpretations of the environmental flows concept and its role in water management. It also aims to add to existing knowledge of the extent to which the concept is being applied, how it is being translated into policy and practice and the major challenges and opportunities that exist for continued understanding and implementation. The survey was distributed to a range of people representing different water-related sectors and regions around the world. A total of 272 responses representing 64 countries in the six major regions of the world was received. The responses were compiled and analysis of aspects of the respondents backgrounds as well as the questions were conducted using the computer statistical program SPSS. Representation of specific groups, particularly water user groups, and specific regions in the survey however was low, demonstrating possible limitations of the survey distribution method as well as the lack of concept awareness and application in many parts of the world. The ways in which people define and interpret the concept varied widely. The degree to which the concept was applied shows the growing recognition around the world of the need to consider the environmental water requirements when making decisions on water allocations. Despite the growing recognition many areas do not yet apply the concept. The survey allowed the opportunity for respondents to highlight what they perceived asthe major obstacles and difficulties for the concept within their respective areas. Lack of understanding among stakeholders of the socio-economic costs and benefits associated with concept implementation and a lack of political will were the two most common obstacles for the continued adoption and application of environmental flows around the world. Overall, the survey delivered promising signs for the continued evolution of environmental flows within water management. There was widespread opinion that the concept of environmental flows was an essential element in the efforts to achieve sustainable management of water resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Ecology, Environmental flow, water management, survey, perceptions, ecological water requirements
Keyword [sv]
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-2565ISRN: LIU-TEMAV/MPWLS-D--04/002--SEOAI: diva2:19900
Available from: 2004-10-26 Created: 2004-10-26

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