The Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society (AEHMS), established in 1989, has grown into an internationally important, professional organization to promote research in aquatic ecosystems. It has made significant scientific contributions to aquatic ecosystem health management in tropical and temperate ecosystems. Owing to the efforts made for understanding and managing the health, function and sustainability of various ecosystems ranging from lakes to rivers to estuaries, and exchange of scientific information globally, the Society has created a very important niche for itself in aquatic ecology. Special publications brought out by the society under Ecovision World Monograph series and as special volumes of its journal Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management, are of global standard and provide information on ecosystem structure and function from different regions of the World. The Society has very wisely promoted the concept of ecosystem health which is so essential for the development of restoration plans for stressed ecosystems all over the world. The Society has successfully organised very meaningful conferences in different parts of the world, providing the platform for aquatic ecosystem researchers including those from developing countries such as South America, South Africa, Malaysia, China and India.
AEHMS has been organizing conferences and bringing out publications in India for more than a decade. Beginning with a conference dealing with temperate and tropical ecosystems of India held in Nainital in 1999 (published as a special volume of AEHM), then an international conference on “Ecosystem health of large rivers: The majestic River Ganga,” 2006 in Patna, “Climate Change: Impact assessment and management,” Dehradun, 2007 and publishing a special issue on the “Ecosystem health of majestic River Ganges” (AEHM, 2010), the Society has increased its collaboration during the last three years. Dr. Munawar, the President of AEHMS, has visited Kolkata many times in the last few years and held wider consultations with scientists in the Institute. He organised with Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) two very important conferences on “Ecosystem Health of Major Rivers of India: River Ganges Case Study,” Barrackpore, Kolkata, 2012 and “Health and fisheries of the major river ecosystems of India with emphasis on River Ganga,” a satellite symposium held over a period of two days during the Centenary celebrations of Indian Science Congress inaugurated by H. E. the President of India and presided over by the Prime Minister of India. As an outcome of the congress, a book on health and fisheries of major river systems of India is being brought out jointly by AEHMS and CIFRI with about 18 peer reviewed papers. Hopefully the book will provide valuable scientific information on ecology and fisheries of the major river systems of India. The link developed between AEHMS and CIFRI will greatly enhance the promotion of the ecosystem concept in management of the aquatic resources in India.
Riverine ecosystems in India in particular have become highly degraded owing to various anthropogenic stresses such as reduced environmental flows, reduction in biodiversity, invasion of exotics, alteration in water flow due to construction of dams and pollution/eutrophication due to dumping of effluents. A partnership between AEHMS and CIFRI, a premier research institute in India, would go a long way in developing plans for the sustainable management and restoration of the Indian aquatic ecosystems.
While India has diverse and varied aquatic ecosystems offering immense opportunities for scientific investigations, the wide international experience and expertise of the AEHMS can be instrumental in developing and carrying out research programs. I look forward to the strengthening of this partnership in coming years and wish very productive years ahead for the AEHMS.