Scientists Seek New Sustainable Management Approaches For South Bohemian Ponds

In an era characterised by climate change, it is becoming ever more important to enhance the environment and preserve biodiversity, and for sectors using natural resources to operate ethically. It is with this goal in mind that scientists from Mendel University and the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences are discussing the current and future use of ponds. Photo credit: Zenon Moreau / BD. 

Brno, June 30 (BD) – Scientists are working to develop a management plan for the South Bohemian fishery system that can update the region’s centuries-old fishing traditions to meet the needs of 21st century society. The research will focus on the correct strategy for pond management: either maximising the number of fish present or, conversely, reducing the population in favour of an aquatic space which functions as a wetland rich in waterfowl and rare flora. Another option is to reduce agricultural activity and thus provide more space for the public and tourists.

“The right solution is to find the right balance,” said Jiří Schneider of Mendel University. “Our fishermen are experienced and erudite, with a love for the craft and the landscape. On the other hand, they are also honing their skills to find ways that are acceptable not only to them but also to other pond users. That’s why they are thinking about what form the water spaces should take.” Pressure on the landscape is increasing due to new construction and the effects of climate change, in combination with a disrupted water regime in the landscape and increased recreational use. “The need for a clear multifunctional strategy for water use is ever stronger,” said Schneider.

Scientists are developing the concept of ecosystem services. Each option being developed has specific ecosystem benefits. “Sometimes the interests of the different parties are completely opposed,” explained Schneider. “It is not always possible to achieve a win-win outcome. Sometimes one of the parties has to give in. It is a matter of agreement, of common strategy. It is necessary to understand both the party bearing the costs or property rights and the overall social interest.”

For each of the selected South Bohemian ponds, scientists will create a model of what it might look like if fish production prevailed over nature conservation, or if nature conservation prevailed over tourism, and so on. These models will facilitate better decision-making about the future of ponds. A clear framework is the basis for any work in this area, and allows monitoring, for example, of whether the grants used to improve a body of water actually provide the expected results for the habitat.

“First, for each of the selected ponds, we will assess the current status. This involves working with a large amount of data. Based on this data, we will then develop different options for the possible development and management of the ponds. It will be up to all interested groups — fishermen, municipalities, and conservationists — to decide which they prefer,” said Schneider. He stressed that similar strategies should be used for all ponds, including smaller ones.

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