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Protecting Ecosystem Means Protecting Water

Water and Climate Change is the theme for this year's World Water Day. Climate change itself is triggered by the greenhouse effect which then causes warming of the earth's temperature. This condition generates a domino effect on all life on earth, stretching from the oceans to the land. Although it contains 70% water, only 3% of the total water on earth is freshwater. Of the total fresh water, two-thirds are in the form of glaciers and water at the poles which function to maintain climate stability, while the rest is utilized by around 7.8 billion people.

Indonesia ranks fifth in the world in terms of water abundance. At least 6% of the world's total renewable water resources are in Indonesia, with a potential of 2,838 cubic kilometres. High rainfall, reaching ±2,350 mm annually, is the main factor in the abundance of water. This condition is supported by the existence of 7977 watersheds to manage 576 rivers in Indonesia. No wonder Indonesia has 520 billion cubic meters of groundwater potential per year.

This water abundance is influenced by the hydrological cycle, which is highly dependent on the functioning of a healthy ecosystem. According to the UN Water, renewable water sources are highly dependent on the health of ecosystem functions. If the ecosystem is not well maintained, it is certain that a water crisis will occur.

Healthy ecosystem functions depend on the existence of forests. In relation to water, forests function as a catchment and absorbing ground for rainwater. Meanwhile, the forest cannot be separated from the presence of inhabiting animals. Animals are known as biological agents that preserve forests by helping sowing plant seeds.

As is known, water is a very vital element in human life. Water is also important for human activities such as agriculture, fisheries, livestock, irrigation, industry, and energy production. Currently there are 2.1 billion people without access to clean water, while another 700 million are facing water shortages. In Indonesia, population inequality and development cause uneven access to clean water.

Problems concerning water do not cease at ecosystem conditions that continue to decline due to unsustainable land conversion, deforestation, and animal hunting. Infrastructure development in urban areas massively suppresses groundwater conditions which means pressure on clean water sources. Citing the publication of UN Water, extreme climate change causes weather anomalies such as long droughts and impacts on the availability of water on earth.

Related to climate change, it is our collective responsibility to take steps sustainably in order to maintain the availability of water on earth. The wisely use of water has an impact on its sustainability around us. Other efforts are to maintain the upstream ecosystem by—among others—implementing sustainable agricultural practices, put a stop to illegal logging, cease hunting animals, and actively participate in conservation activities.