An 'oasis' signifies a refugium of safety, recovery, relaxation, fertility, and productivity in an inhospitable desert, a sweet spot in a barren landscape where life-giving water spills forth from the Earth. Remarkable mythological congruencies exist across dryland cultures worldwide where oases or 'arid-land springs' occur. In many places they also provide specialised habitats for an extraordinary array of endemic organisms. To inform their management, and maintain their integrity, it is essential to understand the hydrogeology of aquifers and springs. Gravity-fed vs artesian aquifers; actively recharged vs fossil aquifers, and sources of geothermal activity are important concepts presented here. There consequences for oases of sustainable and unsustainable groundwater extraction, and other examples of effective conservation management. Oases are archetypes for human consciousness, habitats that deserve protection and conservation, and a lingua franca for multicultural values and scientific exchange. We represent an international Fellowship of the Spring seeking to encompass and facilitate the stewardship of oases and aquifers through improved knowledge, outreach, and governance.
Keywords: Aquifers; Arid-lands; Drylands; Endemism; Groundwater management; Oases.
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