Professor Graham Harris, ESE Systems
prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2006
Water is essential for life. Not only is all life on Earth based on carbon and water, but by flowing across, through and under the landscape, water also connects patterns and processes of various kinds and ensures the survival of all species, including people. Inland waters are therefore an essential part of this world. Water has many values—aesthetic, cultural, natural and economic—and, like many ‘common property’ resources, it is managed by a variety of means for a variety of ends. Inland waters are highly valued parts of the natural and cultural landscape. Throughout the world, inland waters are heavily used and, as the human population grows, are under threat from pollution and overuse. Over half of the world’s large rivers are now dammed or controlled in some way (Nilsson et al. 2005). Freshwater biodiversity around the globe is declining rapidly (Millennium Assessment Board 2005).