UNESCO-IHE ONLINE COURSE ON ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS|
An often under-valued aspect of water resources management is maintaining the ecological goods and services which rivers provide for people, including income, food, health and recreation. The term 'Environmental Flows' is used to refer to a modified flow regime to maintain a river in some agreed ecological condition. However, maintaining the full spectrum of naturally occurring flows in a river is nowadays hardly possible due to economic developments which have modified the natural flow regime. Environmental Flows can therefore be seen as finding a balance between river basin development on one hand and maintenance of river ecology on the other.
This online course introduces the concept of environmental flows, explains why they are necessary, how to assess and implement them and what they can achieve and what they cannot. The topic of environmental flows requires input from a wide variety of disciplines: Hydrology, Hydraulics, Water chemistry and Geomorphology provide the baseline physical processes which govern environmental conditions in freshwater ecosystems as well as the coastal zone. Governance, policy, economics and social conditions provide the framework for managing natural resources.
- To understand the importance of balancing the use and protection of the natural water resources
- To be able to describe the key hydrological, hydraulic, geomorphological, biological and ecological processes, their interactions and importance to sustaining fresh water ecosystems
- To have a good overview of the available methods used for assessing environmental flow for rivers, wetlands and/or coastal zones
- To be able to describe social, economic and environmental impacts of an environmental flow on the different water users and uses
- To provide the participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage an environmental flow process
The online course is designed for professionals active in water resources management, environmental conservation and/or research. Typically they will belong to government institutions such as ministries of water affairs, environmental affairs, agriculture or river basin organisations.
Such people will be in a position to introduce and promote the concept of Environmental Flows in water policy, planning and management. Others will be employed in research institutions, or in engineering or environmental consultancies.
The online course Environmental Flows is offered in full distance learning mode offering participants to study in his or her own time. Participants complete the course in a part-time, online learning mode over a period of 16 weeks with a total workload of 140 hours (equivalent to a course of 3 weeks full-time). It is expected that a participant spends about 8 hours per week in the course by reading, listening and watching videos, participating in discussions and working on assignments.
The web-based eCampus (based on Moodle) is used for downloading training material and communication. Interaction with other participants and the course instructors is organised through eg forums and discussions in Moodle.
This course has been jointly developed by UNESCO-IHE, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, IUCN and Deltares
For more information, please visit the website.