Assessing policy influences on people’s relationship to water ecosystem services: The Indian experience
Projections of water demand indicate that India will be able to meet her water requirements until the year 2050 through integrated water management plans. This may be an unrealistically rosy picture, as two crucial factors have not been taken into account: the impact of programmes such as watershed management programmes, and any possible impact due to climate change. Further, there has been no attempt to enumerate the ecosystem services being provided by these freshwater ecosystems.
Recent developments in collaborative research with UK institutions and others indicate increasing interest and concern amongst policymakers and researchers in India. There is limited awareness about freshwater ecosystem services in India – religious and value-based beliefs prevail, even though some of them are based on hydrological ‘myths’. Other parties and drivers that affect water ecosystem services – such as afforestation targets, biofuel development and free extraction of groundwater – are not addressed coherently, and not in the context of climate change. Suggested research priorities outlined in this report include research to support policy improvement, and in particular implementation, evaluation, linkages between policies and consideration of the effects on ecosystems.