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|Title:||The use of system analysis methods in the sustainable managements of wetlands||Authors:||Loiselle, Steven Arthur
The management of the utilisation of natural resources from wetland ecosystems is a multiobjective and complex task. The creation of innovative decision making tools for sustainable wetland resource utilisation is an important challenge for the future. This is particularly crucial in the light of the growing shortages for high quality freshwater and the vanishing habitat for a large number of wetland fauna and flora species. Because wetlands combine attributes of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, wetlands are often at the crossroads of a number of disciplines with no specific discipline of its own. Therefore, management programmes require a multidisciplinary approach founded on a systematic monitoring of key biological and physical parameters. A European Commission DG XII research project dedicated to the development of management tools for wetland resources in Latin America is being developed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from eight universities, located in four EU member states, Argentina and Brazil. The study sites that will be utilised for this analysis are two shallow lakes in Northeast Argentina within the large (13 000 km2) wetland `Esteros del Ibera'. Continuous and periodic in-situ monitoring instrumentation has been installed in a long term monitoring programme of hydrological and meteorological factors, coupled with monthly biological and ecological data gathering. Potential future scenarios for wetland resource use are being discussed in a series of public meetings with key provincial and local actors (teachers, university professors, clergymen, local business persons and politicians). These meetings address both the small scale modifications of wetland use (water extraction for agriculture, tourism, controlled hunting) as well as regional projects related to the creation of large scale economic development (forestation, modification of nearby waterways for hydroelectric production and increased river transportation). Models are developed relating the chemical, physical, biological and ecological parameters monitored. These models will be dedicated to analysing the effects of development on wetland functions and resource quality. An economic model will be created to evaluate potential modifications in wetland functions in the local and regional socio-economic context. Evaluation instruments are developed and tested which include; qualitative models using loop analysis, goal functions based on the aquatic trophic web and the overall energy flux in the lagoon, and a geographical information system utilising satellite images. The purpose of these instruments is to examine the overall impacts of development alternatives on resource quality and ecosystem integrity, as well as demonstrating key parameters that should be more closely monitored. The final package will include an evaluation of the potential impacts of the development scenarios proposed by the key actors, recommendations to reduce specific impacts through alternative technologies, together with a monitoring programme and analysis tools for improved decision making in wetland resource management.
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