Water Experts Participate in 9th Biennial Rosenberg Forum

Louis Santiago, associate professor of physiological ecology, and Ariel Dinar, professor of environmental economics and policy, participated recently in the 9th biennial meeting of the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy in Panama City, Panama. The forum took place Feb. 24-28.

The forum, which is held every other year, is a program of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Division of the University of California that examines how to reduce conflict in the management of water resources and encourages the adoption of science-based water policy. The vice president of ANR, Glenda Humiston, oversees the forum and participated in the event. Participation is limited to invited water scholars and senior water managers.

The theme for this 9th biennial meeting was “Managing Water and Biodiversity in Humid Areas,” which represented a departure from the previous forums’ themes that were focused on the problems of water management in arid and semi-arid regions.

Santiago presented a paper, “Managing Tropical Biodiversity for Watershed Yield: Approaches, Challenges and Policy Implications,” in which he discussed the policy implications of managing biologically diverse tropical forests for hydrological benefits through watershed reserves, effective reforestation of degraded forest resources, and government incentives to maximize hydrological benefits for society.

“Terrestrial vegetation is important for determining ecosystem water cycling, but its role in biologically diverse humid tropical forests is not as well studied as temperate ecosystems,” he wrote. “As demand for water grows in developing countries in the face of climate change, it is critical to consider how water management policy can best promote forest cover that maximizes watershed yield and minimizes damage from storm-related floods.”

Management of watershed reserves must be approached in a way that promotes harmony with local inhabitants to avoid illegal practices that degrade forest and hydrological resources, Santiago said. He also addressed tropical reforestation practices that advocate using native species, practical government incentives that promote beneficial forest practices for healthy watersheds, and specific challenges and impediments to watershed management policy.

Dinar is a member of the Rosenberg International Forum Advisory Committee, which is responsible for setting the forums’ programs and recruitment of invited representative participants. Henry J. Vaux Jr., UCR professor of resource economics emeritus, chairs the Rosenberg Forum.

Primary sponsors of the forum are the University of California and the Bank of America. Co-sponsors for this 9th biennial meeting included the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Biomuseo, the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Republic of Panama, The Panama Canal Authority, The Technological University of Panama, and the Botin Foundation.

More information on the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy can be found at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/Programs/rosenberg/.

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