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Capacity building

Most of the freshwaterBIODIVERSITY capacity building activities are jointly developed in cooperation with the project "Global Water for Sustainability" (GLOWS) and with the UNESCO Ecohydrology Programme.

Mara River Environmental Flows Project (in collaboration with GLOWS)

The Mara-Serengeti Ecoregion is home to two of the most renowned wildlife conservation areas in Africa - The Masai-Mara National Reserve of Kenya and the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. The high biodiversity of the Ecoregion is of immense conservation and economic value to both Kenya and Tanzania. The protected areas were established to conserve the annual migration route of more than 2 million ungulates, including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and many other species. Animals spend the rainy season (Dec-May) on the verdant Serengeti plains of Tanzania, but when the rains subside, lack of water forces a 100-200 km northward migration to Kenya along the Mara River; the only perennial source of surface water in the ecoregion. Unfortunately, land-use changes and a burgeoning human population upstream have placed increasing demands on the water of the Mara. If unchecked, increasing abstractions upstream could extract 100% of dry season flows in the next decade, causing an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions.

The Environmental Flows Project in the Mara River Basin is a collaboration between DIVERSITAS and the Global Water Sustainability Project (GLOWS), involving Committee member Michael McClain of Florida International University and others, and is supporting research to determine the water and flow regime requirements of the Mara River in key river reaches, including that which passes through Masai-Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park. This research effort is the first of its kind in Kenya and only the second to be undertaken in Tanzania. It is already having a significant impact on both research and decision-making processes in Kenya and Tanzania because it provides, for the first time, the guidance necessary for the water agencies in the two countries to implement newly established laws and policies to protect water flows for ecosystems. Results deriving from the project are also feeding into parallel and complementary activities directed at securing a sustainable water future for people and wildlife in the Ecoregion and establishing a transboundary framework for coordinated water resource management between Kenya and Tanzania under the auspices of the East African Community.


Science-policy and science-manager interface

Organisation of symposium at the World Water Week (Stockholm, Sweden):

  • Environmental Flows and Human Health (17-23 August 2008). More
  • Working with Nature: Improving integrated water resources management by sustaining and restoring ecosystem services and freshwater biodiversity (12-18 August 2007). More
  • Monitoring Freshwater Ecosystem Change - a component of the 'Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network - GEO BON' (5-11 September 2010). More

Organisation of side event at meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity:

  • Presentation at COP10 side event "Wetlands, Water, Livelihoods and Biodiversity Linkages in a Global Water Crisis" (20 October 2010, Nagoya, Japan): "Global analysis of threats to freshwater ecosystems: links between biodiversity and water security" by C Vorosmarty. More

 

Training young scientists

Joint ecoSERVICES and freshwaterBIODIVERISTY workshop: “Sustainable Freshwaters: biodiversity, resilience and the value of ecosystem services” (25-28 February 2008, Seattle, USA, BESTNet project) aimed at:

  • Advancing the science of freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • Research train young American researchers in this new, interdisciplinary biodiversity science.

Peter McIntyre, one of the BESTNet fellow, is co-leading with Charles Vorosmarty the activity of Global threats to freshwater biodiversity and human security.

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