Groundwater dependent ecosystems and man: conflicting groundwater uses

Przemysław Wachniew, Stanisław Witczak, Adam Postawa, Jarosław Kania, Anna Żurek, Kazimierz Różański, Marek Dulliński


Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) are important elements of biodiversity and providers of valuable goods and services to the society. Preservation of their environmental functions in face of increasing anthropogenic pressures on groundwater resources and progressing climate change depends on appropriate environmental policies and water resources management.

This paper reviews basic knowledge of the functioning of GDEs and their relations with groundwater and discusses their place in environmental policies and vulnerability. Effective incorporation of GDEs into the policy and practice of water resources management depends on thorough understanding of how the hydrogeological processes and human impacts influence the quantity and quality of groundwater available to the ecosystems.  Major scientific challenges in this regard are related to adequate representation of GDEs in the conceptual and the related numerical models of groundwater systems. Similarly, design and validation of indicators adequate for assessment of GDE status and vulnerability requires understanding of responses of ecosystems to various pressures. An effective incorporation of GDEs into groundwater management practice can be done only within the framework of a multidisciplinary approach.


groundwater; ecosystems; vulnerability, modelling; indicators

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