Sustainable Management of River Oases along the Tarim River / China
The Tarim River is one of the largest inland rivers in the world and located in the Northwest of China, known worldwide for its natural resources, extreme climatic and hydrological situation and vulnerable ecosystems. The river basin covers app. one million square kilometers. A large part of the basin is a relatively flat desert region with a mean annual precipitation of around 40 mm and more than 3000 mm potential evapotranspiration per year. Water resources are mainly provided by high mountain precipitation, seasonal snow and glacier melting which feed the Tarim River through its tributaries. Water resources and ecosystem stability are the most obvious and sensitive issues in this hyper-arid area.
During the past five decades, intensive exploitation of water resources, mainly by agricultural water consumption for cotton production, has changed the temporal and spatial distribution of water resources and has caused serious environmental problems in the Tarim River Basin. The ecosystems as well the ecological processes dominated by natural vegetation are seriously impacted by water diversions for irrigation purposes. The SuMaRiO cluster (Sustainable Management of River Oases along the Tarim River / China) aims to contribute to a sustainable land management which explicitly takes into account ecosystem functions and ecosystem services. In a transdisciplinary research process, SuMaRiO will identify realizable management strategies, considering social, economic and ecological criteria. This will have positive effects for nearly 10 million inhabitants of different ethnic groups.