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Forests 2019, 10(2), 176;

Assessing Hydrological Ecosystem Services in a Rubber-Dominated Watershed under Scenarios of Land Use and Climate Change

Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 December 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
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Land use and climate change exert pressure on ecosystems and threaten the sustainable supply of ecosystem services (ESS). In Southeast-Asia, the shift from swidden farming to permanent cash crop systems has led to a wide range of impacts on ESS. Our study area, the Nabanhe Reserve in Yunnan province (PR China), saw the loss of extensive forest areas and the expansion of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis Müll. Arg.) plantations. In this study, we model water yield and sediment export for a rubber-dominated watershed under multiple scenarios of land use and climate change in order to assess how both drivers influence the supply of these ESS. For this we use three stakeholder-validated land use scenarios, varying in their degree of rubber expansion and land management rules. As projected climate change varies remarkably between different climate models, we combined the land use scenarios with datasets of temperature and precipitation changes, derived from nine General Circulation Models (GCMs) of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in order to model water yield and sediment export with InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs). Simulation results show that the effect of land use and land management decisions on water yield in Nabanhe Reserve are relatively minor (4% difference in water yield between land use scenarios), when compared to the effects that future climate change will exert on water yield (up to 15% increase or 13% decrease in water yield compared to the baseline climate). Changes in sediment export were more sensitive to land use change (15% increase or 64% decrease) in comparison to the effects of climate change (up to 10% increase). We conclude that in the future, particularly dry years may have a more pronounced effect on the water balance as the higher potential evapotranspiration increases the probability for periods of water scarcity, especially in the dry season. The method we applied can easily be transferred to regions facing comparable land use situations, as InVEST and the IPCC data are freely available. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ecosystem services; climate change; land use change; rubber plantation; InVEST Ecosystem services; climate change; land use change; rubber plantation; InVEST

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Thellmann, K.; Golbon, R.; Cotter, M.; Cadisch, G.; Asch, F. Assessing Hydrological Ecosystem Services in a Rubber-Dominated Watershed under Scenarios of Land Use and Climate Change. Forests 2019, 10, 176.

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