The aesthetics of water and land: a promising concept for managing scarce water resources under climate change

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2010 Nov 28;368(1931):5323-37. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0143.


The eastern Mediterranean faces a severe water crisis: water supply decreases due to climate change, while demand increases due to rapid population growth. The GLOWA Jordan River project generates science-based management strategies for maximizing water productivity under global climate change. We use a novel definition of water productivity as the full range of services provided by landscapes per unit blue (surface) and green (in plants and soil) water. Our combined results from climatological, ecological, economic and hydrological studies suggest that, in Israel, certain landscapes provide high returns as ecosystem services for little input of additional blue water. Specifically, cultural services such as recreation may by far exceed that of food production. Interestingly, some highly valued landscapes (e.g. rangeland) appear resistant to climate change, making them an ideal candidate for adaptive land management. Vice versa, expanding irrigated agriculture is unlikely to be sustainable under global climate change. We advocate the inclusion of a large range of ecosystem services into integrated land and water resources management. The focus on cultural services and integration of irrigation demand will lead to entirely different but productive water and land allocation schemes that may be suitable for withstanding the problems caused by climate change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Climate Change
  • Conservation of Natural Resources* / methods
  • Droughts
  • Ecosystem
  • Esthetics*
  • Fresh Water*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Rivers
  • Water Supply*