Ecohydrology for enhancement of catchment sustainability pot WBSR+CE – Water, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, Resilience, Culture and Education
Professor Maciej Zalewski was the founder Chairman of UNESCO Chair of Ecohydrology and Applied Ecology at the University of Lodz (1991-2020), and the founding director of the European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Science (2000- present). Professor Zalewski is the author of a novel concept of Ecohydrology which is the basis for the methodology of “Nature-Based Solutions”, that is recently being developed by the United Nations. He has been the leading expert in UNESCO in ecohydrology since 1989, coordinating research projects and formulating strategic documents, both for the UN and the European Commission.
One of the most important threats for biosphere’s sustainability in the era of climatic changes is the amplification of water and nutrient cycling stochasticity, which means intensive floods, draughts and pollution. This is to a great extent due to the increase of industrial agriculture and random urbanization which results in a cumulative impact: loss of organic matter in soils, reduction of diversified mosaic landscape in the catchment, degradation of aquatic habitats and reduction self-purification potential of the catchment, resulting in acceleration of polluted water outflow to the sea. In order to reverse various forms of cumulative intermediate impacts, which often are major factors of degradation of ecological potential of the catchments, profound understanding of water–biota interplay is most important. This is because water is a major determinant of ecosystem’s structure as it drives carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen cycling and determine ecosystem services for society. Thus for development of innovative Ecohydrological Nature Based Solutions (EH NBS) for water, the profound understanding of water-biota interplay from molecular to catchment scale is fundamental. The above Ecohydrological framework serves not only to mitigate intermediate forms of impact but also to increase the ecological potential of the river basin expressed by a multi-dimensional goal WBSR+CE – Water, Biodiversity, ecosystem Services for society, Resilience to climatic changes, Culture and Education, which helps to harmonize the enhanced ecosystem potential with society’s needs and, in turn, achieve sustainability of river basins. As far as Ecohydrology is an empirical science, international advanced study courses where scientist and pro-activists can share experience at UNESCO IHP Demosities, should also be an important tool for dissemination.