Protecting biodiversity serves as a reliable roadmap for meeting the SDG6 targets

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Sun Oct 1 2023

Author: Guest contributor

In this interview, Vladimir Pešić, Professor of the Department of Biology at University of Montenegro who specializes in freshwater biodiversity research, tells us that safe access to water is only achievable when we fully recognize water as a habitat for numerous species. His recent publication explores the vital role of science-based river water management in averting potential conflicts and ensuring sustainable water resource planning.

Could you briefly describe your work and its direct contribution to SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation?

My work is focused on freshwater biodiversity research. My scientific team has a particular focus on spring ecosystems and the development of methodologies including species that serve as robust indicators of the health of these globally endangered ecosystems. These ecosystems have not yet been incorporated into standard freshwater assessment tools due to their small size and unique characteristics compared to the lower reaches of flowing waters.

Our research concentrates on species exclusive to springs, known as crenobiotic taxa, which are more susceptible to human-induced changes and the effects of global climate change. The global understanding of spring ecosystem biodiversity is currently lacking, with data gaps even in European regions. Recently, we have published three books, namely “The Skadar/Shkodra Lake Environment”, “The Rivers of Montenegro”, and “Small Water Bodies of the Western Balkans” with Springer Nature. These publications focus on various hydrological and environmental challenges related to sustainable water resource management in Montenegro and the Western Balkans, and contribute directly to one of the main goals of SGG 6: to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water for all.

What, in your opinion, is the most relevant approach to measure success in achieving this goal within your field?

The projected increase in water demand in the future will inevitably result in more alterations to springs, impacting water quality and availability while also causing habitat loss for numerous species. My team and I are actively engaged in documenting the biodiversity that thrives in these ecosystems, as well as crafting metrics for assessing spring deterioration on a global scale.

How can scientific research best be applied in real-world social contexts to advance the goals of SDG6?

In practical social settings, water resource utilization has become a contentious issue involving various stakeholders, ranging from ecologists and private companies to governmental and non-governmental entities. Our book, “The Rivers of Montenegro" underscores the crucial role of science-based management in averting potential conflicts and ensuring sustainable water resource planning. It is vital to comprehend that ensuring safe access to water is achievable only through recognizing water as a habitat for numerous species. The success of conservation and restoration efforts aimed at protecting biodiversity serves as a reliable roadmap for meeting the targets and indicators of SDG6.

What does public engagement look like in your field, and how significant is it for researchers to make a societal impact through their work?

Scientists engaged in biodiversity research often exhibit social commitment, and their work frequently manages to reach a broader social audience, rendering their findings visible and recognizable to society. My research team and I have identified over 400 species previously unknown to science from various regions around the world. Many of these discoveries garnered favourable attention from local media and scientific platforms, helping the public perceive aquatic ecosystems, especially springs, not only as sources of drinking water but also as habitats for numerous endemic and endangered species.

Visit our SDG 6 hub for selected research about Clean Water and Sanitation
P_Vladimir Pešić © Springer Nature 2023

About the Author

Prof., Dr. Vladimir Pešić is a full professor at the Department of Biology, University of Montenegro. His research interest covers: taxonomy, ecology, and biogeography of freshwater macroinvertebrates; ecological research of spring ecosystems and intermittent streams; and environmental monitoring. He discovered more than 350 species new for science from all parts of the world. 

P_Cover image © Springer Nature 2023

He is the author of 350+ peer-reviewed papers, author and/or editor of several books including “Süßwasserfauna von Mitteleuropa. Bd. 7/2-3 Chelicerata”, “The Skadar/Skodra Environment”, and “The Rivers of Montenegro” published by "Springer". He is the editor-in-chief of “Ecologica Montenegrina” and a member of the editorial board of several international journals.

Explore his latest book: The Rivers of Montenegro


Author: Guest contributor

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