In many places across the world, water conservation has been a long-debated topic. A lot of talk has been surmounting around protecting water bodies from human interactions to prevent any sort of water pollution. The most common argument given might hover around the simplistic assumption of humans being the sole culprit for the degeneration of various natural resources. While the intention here might be right, this kind of approach is anything but perfectly effective.
As mentioned in the article titled: Biodiversity conservation needs a more ecological context, even “a single ecosystem is a phenomenal web of interacting processes and relationships,” As we target to address modern ecological problems, which are getting more complex every day with the discovery and introduction of new knowledge paradigms, we can hardly afford to overlook any of the elements at play. Clearly, for an issue like the conservation of water bodies, an absence of human interaction, which has been persisting historically, might even lead to some unexpected negative impacts like biodiversity disturbance. A pertinent example would be of fisheries. Well-managed fisheries help preserve essential habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, These habitats provide breeding grounds and shelters for various species, safeguarding their populations and enhancing biodiversity, However, without human interaction, the disturbance in these habitats can have cascading effects on the entire ecosystem, affecting not only the fish but also other species that depend on them for food or as part of their natural predator-prey relationships.
Also, human impact on the degeneration of water bodies can not be generalised as it depends on multiple factors. “The role a species plays in an ecosystem can change depending on its life stage, or population size, or the time of the year, or the spatial scale we are interested in.” One size never fits all. Addressing critical ecological issues such as water conservation requires more specialized efforts well-tailored to the underlying factors, including geographical and societal conditions. We have to think from a personalized lens to solve even an identical ecological problem under different conditions. The most crucial of them would perhaps be the geographical location.
As substantiated in the article titled: What’s in a name? The role of defining ‘wilderness’ in conservation, we have to move from designing solutions to the ecological problems that are globally accepted to the ones that fit locally. In my personal experience, there are still many villages across my home country – India, where human societies and water bodies thrive together, interacting sustainably. As a culturally prominent practice in various communities, cleaning wells and rivers is an annual practice and is celebrated as festival proceedings. These annual cleaning practices not only help maintain the cleanliness of water bodies but also serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural resources. By involving the local communities in these activities, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the environment, leading to long-term sustainable practices. Such practices advocate for a thoughtful and conscious consideration of local factors while devising solutions to ecological problems.
Watson has rightly said that it’s critical to come to a broadly supported consensus about where to protect and then allowing individual countries to sort out the protection strategy “that best fits their people.” I would even go a step further and would highly support that the level of specialization should even be narrower than a country, and the spatial limit should be as small as possible.
- “Biodiversity conservation needs a more ecological context”. Mongabay, 17 Feb. 2023.
- “What’s in a name? The role of defining ‘wilderness’ in conservation”. Mongabay, 7 Feb. 2019.