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Fresh Water Ecosystem

In: Science

Submitted By nikhil000
Words 11042
Pages 45
Published by the Ecological Society of America

Number 10, Winter 2003

Issues in Ecology
Sustaining Healthy
Freshwater Ecosystems

Issues in Ecology

Number 10

Winter 2003

Sustaining Healthy Freshwater Ecosystems
SUMMARY
Fresh water is vital to human life and economic well-being, and societies extract vast quantities of water from rivers, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers to supply the requirements of cities, farms, and industries. Our need for fresh water has long caused us to overlook equally vital benefits of water that remains in stream to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems. There is growing recognition, however, that functionally intact and biologically complex freshwater ecosystems provide many economically valuable commodities and services to society. These services include flood control, transportation, recreation, purification of human and industrial wastes, habitat for plants and animals, and production of fish and other foods and marketable goods. Over the long term, intact ecosystems are more likely to retain the adaptive capacity to sustain production of these goods and services in the face of future environmental disruptions such as climate change. These ecosystem benefits are costly and often impossible to replace when aquatic systems are degraded. For this reason, deliberations about water allocation should always include provisions for maintaining the integrity of freshwater ecosystems. Scientific evidence indicates that aquatic ecosystems can be protected or restored by recognizing the following:
• Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and their connecting ground waters are literally the “sinks” into which landscapes drain. Far from being isolated bodies or conduits, freshwater ecosystems are tightly linked to the watersheds or catchments of which each is a part, and they are greatly influenced by human uses or modifications of land as well as water....

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