Relevance of Ecohydrology concept in solving THE current environmentAL issueS
Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water resources is critical to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Increasing human population, climate instability, and degradation of the biological integrity of ecosystems have resulted in a decline in biodiversity and water resources worldwide. The anthropogenic modifications of the water cycle, resulting from catchment land cover alteration, urbanization, agriculture, over-exploitation, and pollution, have caused degradation of ecosystem structures to the point at which the ecosystem's capacity to deliver desired resources (or services) is seriously diminished. There is an urgent need to reverse the degradation of ecosystems to prevent further decline in biodiversity and water resources.
Traditionally, the water resources managers and hydrologists have opted for a mechanistic approach that focused mainly on assessing different water cycle components and providing engineering solutions to maintain a dependable water supply for various purposes. The role of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in controlling the quantity and quality of water has not been given much attention. These practices are still standard in many developing countries, including India. Keeping this in mind, the ecohydrology concept was developed within the framework of the UNESCO International Hydrological Program (IHP-V), which encouraged the integration of ecology and hydrology. Ecohydrology, which is considered a sub-discipline of hydrology, studies the interactions and feedbacks between hydrological, ecological, and atmospheric processes at different scales to enhance biodiversity, improve water security and minimize ecohydrological threats. The IHP-VIII thematic area 5: 'Ecohydrology, engineering harmony for a sustainable world' stresses adopting ecohydrological solutions in the integrated water resources management approach. The ecohydrology approach is predicted to become increasingly important in our efforts to safeguard the freshwater ecosystems and preserve global and regional carbon, water, and nutrient cycling to improve the long-term sustainability of environmental, social, and economic development.
Despite its immense importance and relevance to the current environmental issues, only a few dedicated programs on Ecohydrology are available worldwide. The massive knowledge gap is limiting the research community in the developing world from the large-scale adoption of these technologies to counter environmental issues. Therefore, it is felt that there is an urgent need to accelerate the education and research in this direction to promote the ecohydrology approach. The proposed symposium is planned to fill this knowledge gap and brainstorm on future directions to accelerate the ecohydrology research in India.