Fresh water, a resource necessary for most life on Earth, currently experiences impacts that reduce both water quality and quantity. These impacts compromise human wellbeing and threaten the existence of many nonhuman species, the latter including freshwater biodiversity as well as other species requiring water to survive. In response, development and conservation professionals strive to ensure that adequate fresh water is available for people and other organisms. Here we examine the need to coordinate efforts in these two areas of intervention to ensure long-term success for both. We begin by discussing how places needing water development and biodiversity conservation tend to be located in the same parts of the world, suggesting that projects in each subject area may well co-occur. We then summarize briefly the current challenges facing water development and freshwater-related biodiversity conservation, as well as the main approaches to address those challenges. The study examines potential strategies to provide improved access to water for both people and nature through integrated water resources management and less formal approaches to avoiding unintended impacts of one activity on the other. Example projects reveal several benefits of linking development and biodiversity conservation efforts to maintain water resources. The study closes by arguing for the need to coordinate water development and biodiversity conservation activities in a manner that seeks practical synchronized solutions for particular project settings. WIREs Water 2016, 3:301–311. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1142. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Engineering Water > Planning Water.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Aquatic Science
- Ocean Engineering