Watershed Management The utilisation of natural resources, such as water and land, is today closely interlinked with the goals of sustainability and environmental appropriateness. The concept of watershed management has internationally gained significance following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro (also known as the Earth Summit). Watershed management as a measure of development implies that the resources within a defined watershed should be utilised for the benefit of the local population and in harmony with the environment.
In this context, an integrated approach is applied: the watershed is understood as an ecological system which can only sustain as a unit. People are an integral part of the system, thus perceptions of resource utilisation have to be understood in the context of impacts on the environment. Planning and development are not carried out with the one-sided goal of satisfying any human need. Rather, the societal development goals are defined by the given environmental framework. Resources are only to be utilised as far as they are renewable, in order to preserve the basis of survival for future generations.
Knowledge of the user interests concerning natural resources of all stakeholders presents an important key indicator for project success. This is demonstrated by this quote by an Indian forestry agent: „We have planted millions of young trees annually for over twenty years. These have been immediately illegally cut down by farmers for fuel wood, while the forest was used as pasture for their sheep with the result of increasing soil erosion. Within the project we have then learned to ask the farmers about their problems. They know the relationship between deforestation, overgrazing and erosion. They were not ignorant. They were just never asked for their needs.