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Water resource shortage has become more and more a problem for the earth and human beings living on it. How to properly balance the development need of human society and the maintenance of ecosystem when water is inadequate?

Scientists  from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) recently proposed a possible solution for sustainable water resource management with a developed participatory Bayesian network (BN) model.

A Bayesian network is a probabilistic graphical model that represents a set of random variables and their conditional dependencies via a directed acyclic graph.

Scientists present the development, evaluation and application of the participatory BN model with the involvement of four participant groups in Qira oasis area, Northwest China. The four participant groups are stakeholders, water manager, water management experts, and research team.

Qira oasis area is a typical catchment-scale region, and is facing severe water competition between the demands of human activities and natural ecosystems.

Their study showed that great cooperation among the stakeholders is highly necessary for dealing with such water conflicts.

Building reservoirs will greatly help alleviate the irrigation insufficiency in spring, but it may also lead to severe water shortage which will threaten the ecosystem in the oasis downstream. “Greater cooperation among the stakeholders is highly necessary for dealing with such water conflicts,” said Dr. XUE Jie, leading researcher of the study.

A proportion of the agricultural water saved through improving water-use efficiency should be transferred to natural ecosystems via water trade, suggested XUE.

The BN model developed is appropriate for areas throughout the world in which there is intense competition for water between human activities and ecosystems.

XUE’s study was published in the recent issue of Journal of Hydrology, entitled “Model development of a participatory Bayesian network for coupling ecosystem services into integrated water resources management”.

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