Theoretical and Practical Approaches in Watershed Management across Different Environmental Contexts

A special issue of Resources (ISSN 2079-9276).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 19559

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Science (AGRARIA), Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, 89127 Reggio Calabria, Italy
Interests: hydrological modelling; watershed management; soil conservation; flooding risk assessment; river restoration
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Guest Editor
Department of Agroforestry Technology and Science & Genetics, School of Advanced Agricultural & Forestry Engineering, Castilla La Mancha University, Campus Universitario s/n, C.P. 02071 Albacete, Spain
Interests: natural regeneration; soil erosion; forest hydrology; nutrient cycling; soil microbiology; forest management; forest fires
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last century, several techniques have been used for watershed management, ranging from engineering works (as check dams) in channels to soil conservation measures (as terraces, reforestation, etc.) on hillslopes. In all environmental contexts, these actions have noticeably modified the local morphology, hydrology, and ecology and their effects have influenced all the ecosystem resources on a watershed scale. Moreover, the theoretical and practical approaches for watershed management have been often adopted without considering the physical and ecological processes of each specific context. Until now, since watershed dynamics are still not well understood, sustainable river management remains very complex.

This Special Issue aims to attract contributions from scientists working in different climatic, geomorphological, and  ecological contexts, in order to (i) analyse the availability of tools providing a better comprehension of watershed physical and biological processes (hydrological models, techniques for processing geographical information, laboratory experiments, design methods, etc.) and (ii) propose new strategies for the sustainable management of watershed resources (soil, water, vegetation, etc.). Papers focusing on the state-of-the-art of specific issues (such as reviews and discussions), as well as research and applied projects (as, for instance, successful/unsuccessful case studies) about the rehabilitation and restoration of natural resources in degraded watersheds, are welcome. We also encourage studies targeted at setting up new guidelines and design criteria for watershed management, especially regarding land planning and hydrogeological/ecological risk management.

Dr. Demetrio Antonio Zema
Dr. Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • watershed hydrology
  • river ecology
  • soil conservation
  • engineering control works
  • flooding risk assessment
  • ecosystem restoration
  • degraded enviroment rehabilitation
  • forest management
  • erosion modelling
  • geographical analysis

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 3565 KiB  
Article
Multi-Decadal Nutrient Management and Trends in Two Catchments of Lake Okeechobee
by Rachael Z. Cooper, Sarina J. Ergas and Mahmood Nachabe
Resources 2024, 13(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13020028 - 13 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1406
Abstract
 Despite years of efforts to improve water quality, harmful algal blooms remain a chronic phenomenon, with devastating environmental, economic, and social impacts in many regions worldwide. In this study, we assessed the complexity of nutrient pollution attributed to harmful algal blooms in South [...] Read more.
 Despite years of efforts to improve water quality, harmful algal blooms remain a chronic phenomenon, with devastating environmental, economic, and social impacts in many regions worldwide. In this study, we assessed the complexity of nutrient pollution attributed to harmful algal blooms in South Florida (USA) by analyzing 20 years of flow and nutrient data within two headwater basins in the Lake Okeechobee (LO) watershed. The study used an established advanced regression method, the Weighted Regression on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS) method, as an analysis framework to examine the impact of nutrient management practices on water quality trends. The WRTDS method produced total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN) concentration and flux trends, which were then compared with existing and historic nutrient management records within the basin. Results from this study highlight divergences in progress to improve water quality. Nutrient management practices only had a weak impact on TP and TN flux trends in one of the two basins, where TP flux decreased 2% per year, and TN flux decreased 0.1% per year. TP and TN flux increased in the second basin. Variances of improvement between the two basins are likely attributable to differences in contemporary point source loading and legacy nutrient pools from non-point source inputs 20 years or more before the analysis period. The long-lasting impacts of legacy nutrients also emphasize a need for investments in technologies and practices that can withdraw nutrients from enriched soil and water.  Full article
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21 pages, 4376 KiB  
Article
Changes in the Active Drainage Network and Their Impact on the Hydrological Response and Flood Risk Management Process: A Case Study for a Flysch Mountain Catchment
by Tomasz Bryndal
Resources 2023, 12(12), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12120146 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1470
Abstract
The active drainage network (ADN), as a dynamic component of a catchment, plays an important role in a catchment’s functioning. Changes in the ADN are the most noticeable during extreme hydro-meteorological events, and they result from, among others, the incorporation of man-origin incisions [...] Read more.
The active drainage network (ADN), as a dynamic component of a catchment, plays an important role in a catchment’s functioning. Changes in the ADN are the most noticeable during extreme hydro-meteorological events, and they result from, among others, the incorporation of man-origin incisions into the ADN. Knowledge of the parameters of the “real” ADN is a key element in the field of catchment hydrology because the ADN affects the intensity of hydro-, geomorpho-, and biological processes. The goals of this study are to assess (1) the changes in the ADN during extreme hydro-meteorological events (with special attention paid to the human-induced impact on the ADN transformation) and (2) the consequences of the ADN changes on the hydrological response of a catchment and their impact on the flood hazard/risk management processes. The study was performed in a mountain catchment, prone to flash flood occurrences. The ADN was reconstructed with the use of ALS-LiDAR data using GIS tools, and the hydrological response was evaluated by using SCS-CN and GIUH models. The results revealed that the ADN functioning during heavy rainfalls is three to four times denser than the natural-origin river drainage network (RDN) (11.4 km·km−2 vs. 2.9 km·km−2), and the RDN is significantly modified by human-origin elements (e.g., roads, ditches, furrows, etc.—they constitute ca. 1/3 of the ADN). Moreover, significant structural changes in the ADN have occurred, which were confirmed by the Hortonians’ type of analysis. The changes in the ADN have affected the hydrological response of the catchment (predominantly an increase in the peak flow—up to 7%) and the dimensions of the 1% probable flood hazard zone (increase of ca. 5%). It may be concluded that significant changes in the ADN, in the catchment studied, had a moderate impact on the changes in the flood hazard level. The results give a new insight into the flood hazard/risk assessment processes in a small flysch mountain catchment. Full article
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18 pages, 5875 KiB  
Article
Analyzing the Impact of Ungauged Hill Torrents on the Riverine Floods of the River Indus: A Case Study of Koh E Suleiman Mountains in the DG Khan and Rajanpur Districts of Pakistan
by Maaz Saleem, Muhammad Arfan, Kamran Ansari and Daniyal Hassan
Resources 2023, 12(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12020026 - 3 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4594
Abstract
Floods are one of the most destructive natural hazards in Pakistan, causing significant damage. During monsoons, when westerly winds and concentrated rainfall occur in rivers’ catchments, floods become unmanageable. Given the limited resources of Pakistan, there has been minimal effort to quantify the [...] Read more.
Floods are one of the most destructive natural hazards in Pakistan, causing significant damage. During monsoons, when westerly winds and concentrated rainfall occur in rivers’ catchments, floods become unmanageable. Given the limited resources of Pakistan, there has been minimal effort to quantify the amount of rainfall and runoff generated by ungauged catchments. In this study, ten hill torrents in Koh e Suleiman (District Rajanpur and DG Khan), an area affected by flash flooding in 2022 due to extreme precipitation events, were investigated. The Hydrologic Engineering Centre’s Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS), a semi-distributed event-based hydrological model, was used to delineate streams and quantify runoff. Statistical analysis of the rainfall trends was performed using the non-parametric Gumbel extreme value analysis type I distribution, the Mann–Kendall test, and Sen’s slope. The results of the study show that the total inflow to the river Indus is 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8 MAF for 25, 50, 100, and 200 years of return period rainfall, respectively. This study presents appropriate storage options with a retention potential of 0.14, 1.14, and 1.13 MAF based on an analysis of the hydrology of these hill torrents to enhance the spate irrigation potential as flood control in the future. Full article
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15 pages, 12013 KiB  
Article
Poaching of Encephalartos transvenosus, in the Limpopo Province, South Africa
by Tshianeo M. Ndou, Eduard M. Stam, Milingoni P. Tshisikhawe, Mercy A. Alabi and Adeyemi O. Adeeyo
Resources 2021, 10(12), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10120119 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2990
Abstract
There is an established link between deforestation and negative hydrological effects which may affect watersheds. The number of the cycads Encephalartos transvenosus Stapf & Burtt Davy in South Africa is drastically reducing, and they are nearly extinct. Additionally, poaching and reduction in the [...] Read more.
There is an established link between deforestation and negative hydrological effects which may affect watersheds. The number of the cycads Encephalartos transvenosus Stapf & Burtt Davy in South Africa is drastically reducing, and they are nearly extinct. Additionally, poaching and reduction in the population of cycads in reserves may impact negatively on watersheds in protected and buffer areas since the regeneration of this plant occurs over a long period. This research aimed to study the distributions of poached cycads, evaluate the factors responsible for poaching activity and suggest possible solutions towards conservation of E. transvenosus Stapf & Burtt Davy in some of the nature reserves in Limpopo province. Field observation was used to ascertain and collect locations of poached cycads. Data was obtained through the use of a questionnaire. Questionnaires were administered to rangers for the collection of data on causes of poaching, parts poached, measures taken and challenges of rangers in the nature reserves. Processing of the collected data was done by simple statistical analysis. The total population of rangers available in the reserves was used for the determination of the sample size of rangers by Slovin’s formula. Unemployment (46%) is the leading cause for poaching in Mphaphuli Nature Reserve, while trade is a leading factor in Modjadji and Lekgalameetse (37% and 60%) respectively. Debarked cycads amount to 14 (54%) while 12 of the total (26 poached cycads) were completely removed (46%). The most effective way of stopping the poaching of cycads as perceived by the rangers is by patrolling the nature reserves. The observed poaching of Encephalartos transvenosus is alarming since this plant has a low population size which is currently confined to the Limpopo Province in South Africa only. If poaching continues in the nature reserves, all cycads have the tendency of being removed. Therefore, there is a need to continually develop strategies for the conservation of cycads. The peculiar nature and challenges of each reserve have been established and unique solutions for these nature reserves in Limpopo Province have been proposed. Better conservation of cycad species can positively impact the hydrological process of the concerned area and better help the watersheds. Full article
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18 pages, 3536 KiB  
Article
The Assessment of the Usefulness of Miscanthus x giganteus to Water and Soil Protection against Erosive Degradation
by Andrzej Mazur and Alina Kowalczyk-Juśko
Resources 2021, 10(7), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10070066 - 23 Jun 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2599
Abstract
Water erosion is one of the major factors of soil degradation in the world. Various methods have been developed to prevent soil erosion. One of them is the use of anti-erosion belts on slopes, but it has both positive and negative effects. In [...] Read more.
Water erosion is one of the major factors of soil degradation in the world. Various methods have been developed to prevent soil erosion. One of them is the use of anti-erosion belts on slopes, but it has both positive and negative effects. In order to minimize the negative effects, this study proposes the use of perennial grass in place of the most commonly used trees and shrubs. The paper presents studies on the erosion control effectiveness of a strip planted with Miscanthus x giganteus, established on a loess slope. Surface runoff of water and its constituents and erosion damage was studied on the experimental plot with a separate anti-erosion belt and the control plot. Obtained results indicate the anti-erosion efficiency of the established strip in the context of soil protection from water erosion and surface water protection from pollution, although, in the first years of vegetation, miscanthus has not yet reached the stage of full development. The average surface water runoff relating to precipitation causing the erosive event was 17.1% higher in the control plot than in the experimental plot. The volume of erosion damage in the form of rill erosion was 89.3% higher in the control plot. On the other hand, the volume of erosion damages in surface erosion and patches of deposited silts was lower by 14.7% and 21.6%, respectively. Soil losses from the control plot were 29% higher than those from the experimental plot. Dissolved plant nutrient runoff was also higher from the control plot by: 33.4% N-Ntot, 31.3% N-NH4, 42.7% N-NO3, 21.6% N-NO2, 22.9% P-Ptot, 24.1% K. Full article
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15 pages, 1302 KiB  
Article
Feeding the Future with the Past: Incorporating Local Ecological Knowledge in River Restoration
by Ewelina Szałkiewicz, Joanna Sucholas and Mateusz Grygoruk
Resources 2020, 9(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources9040047 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5167
Abstract
Despite many years of experience in the river restoration field, which has become one of the most promising areas of water resources management, significant challenges and problems remain. These include the scope and scale of restoration measures, developing the reference model, assessment of [...] Read more.
Despite many years of experience in the river restoration field, which has become one of the most promising areas of water resources management, significant challenges and problems remain. These include the scope and scale of restoration measures, developing the reference model, assessment of restoration success, and the engagement of local stakeholders. Progress in addressing these challenges to river restoration could be achieved by changes in current approaches through the appreciation and integration of local communities and their local ecological knowledge (LEK). The results of discussion on ecological restoration indicate that ecological knowledge, which combines the interests of local communities and the environment, could be used in restoration projects. However, in the case of river restoration, this type of knowledge is systematically overlooked. In our paper, we discuss common river restoration problems and supportive elements that may be found in LEK. We conclude that the local stakeholders’ involvement and strong establishment of their position in the river restoration processes should be reconsidered. We believe that the application of LEK has large potential for improving water resources management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems and remains a key factor in a successful future of river restoration. Full article
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