The big zoom-out: Monitoring river health at the global scale
Traditional river health monitoring is carried out in situ, with habitats and species assessed at specific sites and the findings integrated to provide a bill of health for the river. Yet as human activities have an ever-growing impact, there is an increasing need to monitor river health globally. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration all call for river health data at a global scale – far broader data than exist today.
Is it possible to zoom out to a global level, and if so, what methods and indicators are most appropriate? These were the questions discussed at two recent workshops convened by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), engaging key scientists and practitioners working on river health around the world. In the words of Chris Dickens, lead IWMI scientist on the project, the workshops aimed to “critically review the overall concept, provide insights and lessons from existing and emerging methods, and chart a possible future for large-scale monitoring of river ecosystem health”.
Photo credit: Chris Dickens