Ms Lauren Zielinski, United States of America
Ms Lauren Zielinski specializes in the monitoring and evaluation of river systems, focusing on river restoration and environmental flow projects. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Water Resources and Climate Risk from Columbia University in the United States of America, as well as an Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Ecohydrology from the University of Lodz in Poland, the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Brazil, and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. Ms Zielinski spent two years leading an ecosystem monitoring team as an AmeriCorps volunteer, focusing on river and wetland restoration projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin in California. She also has experience working on resource management plans for federal agencies in the United States of America. She currently owns her own company specializing in ecosystem monitoring and evaluation and has experience working on projects in the United States of America, Russia, Mongolia, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Project: Creating a Monitoring and Adaptive Management Framework for Environmental Flows
East Africa is a water-scarce area with a rapidly increasing population. Determination of environmental flows is needed to ensure that the basic human needs and ecological integrity of freshwater systems are maintained. In 2015 and 2016, environmental flow recommendations were created for the Kenyan portion of the Mara River Basin. In order to facilitate implementation of these recommendations, a monitoring and adaptive management plan needed to be created, something that had never been done in the East Africa region. For my MSc thesis, I was selected to lead the effort for developing this plan and supporting its implementation. I researched existing structures from around the world and created an integrated way to monitor and manage environmental flows. This plan was developed in close coordination with the local office of the Water Resources Management Authority and included three distinct components: an objectives hierarchy, a multi-level monitoring plan, and adaptive management cycles. Using my experience from the Mara River, I then generalized the process into a framework that could be used to create such plans in other river basins in Kenya, with the potential to be utilized in other river basins in the region and around the world