Conservation and Management of Running Waters

Conservation and Management of Running Waters


Rivers are used by human societies for a wide variety of purposes: for irrigation, drinking water supply, fish production, power generation, waste disposal, and a range of recreational pursuits. Unfortunately, use and abuse often go hand in hand, and the natural processes of rivers that form and maintain aquatic habitats and their associated species are frequently disrupted.

For example, streams draining agricultural catchments have frequently been deepened and straightened to remove water more efficiently. This results in faster flow of water from the land and allows farmers to plough closer to the stream channel. However, it also minimizes the biological value of the stream, reduces its self-cleaning ability, and eliminates stream-side vegetation which provides shade, habitat, and wetland areas important for nutrient removal and retention. Tackling problems such as this may require fundamental changes in land-use patterns, regulatory mechanisms, and agricultural practices, and in the way that society views and values streams.

Limnologists have a vital role to play in providing technical guidance to those who have responsibility for catchment planning and watercourse management. The SIL Working Group on the Conservation and Management of Running Waters was formed in 1989 so that limnologists in SIL could share information relevant to practical river management, and pass this on in a form that decision-makers can use.

Aims of the Working Group

The overall aim of the group is to increase communication between limnologists working on the conservation and management of running waters, and to address the following:

  1. To promote river basins as fundamental units in conservation and management.
  2. To encourage integrated management of river corridors – river channels, riparian zones and floodplains – and to recognise the essential links between each part.
  3. To promote river restoration and rehabilitation projects as ways of benefiting aquatic habitats and human communities.
  4. To explore new methods for the conservation and management of running waters.
  5. To exchange information on ways of assessing the conservation value of running waters.
  6. To ensure that the wide range of geographical perspectives on river conservation (e.g. differences in approach between first- and third-world economies) are adequately addressed in Working Group discussions.
  7. To find ways of making modern stream management practices available more widely to society, such as through the production of practical handbooks and conservation guidelines.
  8. To hold regular meetings of the Working Group at the triennial SIL Congresses, and to encourage other workshops and events on an ad hoc basis.

Joining the Working Group

Are you already a member? If so, but your contact details have changed since you first joined, please send us the correct version. If you are not a member of the Working Group and would like to join, send us your name, postal and e-mail addresses, and contact telephone and fax numbers, and we will add you to our membership list.

Information should be sent to:

Alison Lee
Scottish Natural Heritage
231 Corstorphine Road
EH12 7AT


Report from a meeting of the Working Group on the Conservation and Management of Running Waters >>>
Montreal, Canada, August 2007


Since the inception of the Working Group we have circulated a periodic newsletter (Meanders) to the membership, and encourage members to submit articles on any relevant topic.

Issues available on-line:

Issue 11, June 2002 >>>

Issue 12, February 2004 >>>

Issue 13, July 2006 >>>