International conference - ecohydrological processes and sustainable floodplain management opportunities and concepts for water hazard mitigation, and ecological and socioeconomic sustainability

World Meteorological Organization
International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management
European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology under the auspices of UNESCO
Polish Academy of Sciences
Department of Applied Ecology, University of Lodz
European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology

Conference sessions will be organized around regional perspectives (Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North and South America). Their aim is to present a range of contrasting philosophies and associated practical approaches appropriate for different parts of the world in relation to the Millennium Development Goals. Ecohydrology should be a framework for review of recent state of the art in floodplain research, identification of gaps in knowledge and identifying perspectives for new solutions. The lectures presented have to reflect different scales of problem solving - ranging from large scale systems (e.g. the Aral Sea, the Danube River basin, the Florida Everglades, the Great Lakes, etc.) to small ones (e.g. single watersheds and streams).

Classic hydro-technical solutions for flood management are focused on runoff acceleration through river regulation combined with water retention in reservoirs. Those hydro-technical solutions during the era of progressing urbanization, deforestation and climatic changes modify the process of infiltration, ground water recharge, biodiversity and biological productivity. Extreme peak flows also enhance transfer of non-point nutrients and pollutants downstream to the catchment by reducing deposition, self-purification and especially biological transformation. The ecohydrology management concept provides an integrative solution framework based on the use of ecosystem properties as management tool. Floodplain ecosystems, due to their high adaptive capacities, offer great potential to modify hydrological conditions at a watershed or basins scale. Simultaneously they provide resources in a sustainable way (food or bio-energy, fisheries, landscape aesthetics, recreation space) and enhance robustness and the absorbing capacity of the whole river basin. Moreover floodplains are usually one of the most important refuge areas for both water and terrestrial biodiversity, and they improve ecological health and resilience in the river ecosystems and adjacent grounds. The management of floodplains according to the applied ecohydrology approach should address three major dimensions: hazard elimination (based mostly on hydrological expertise); water purification (based mostly on ecohydrological expertise); biodiversity conservation (based mostly on ecological, ecohydrological and hydrological expertise). All these problems are unique within each continent, so comparative analysis will be crucial for accelerating progress towards Millennium Development Goals.

The basic themes and goals of the Conference are to address the following issues:

- What properties of floodplains should be or can be enhanced to alleviate or mitigate flood and drought-related hazards?
- What are the existing accepted international, national and scientific rules, regulations and procedures which provide the legal and conceptual bases for ecohydrological management of floodplains and watersheds?
- What specific ecohydrological evaluation and management tools are available to achieve the hazard mitigation goals without conflicting with more general ecological sustainability objectives (biodiversity, naturalness, connectivity, sustainable fisheries)?
- What are the range of ecosystem services that can be provided by naturally functioning floodplains, and how can these be better evaluated within the context of traditional water resource project evaluation frameworks, which monetize benefits of all water-related services, including environmental services (flood damage reduction, water supply, agricultural irrigation, fisheries, recreation, navigation, hydropower, etc.)?
- Case study examples of successful uses of ecohydrological principles to achieve flood and drought hazard mitigation goals.

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