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MADAGASCAR

Project location Madagascar
Starting date 01 July 2014
Completion date 30 June 2016
Client King’s College London
Project leader Dr. Ir. Maciek W. Lubczynski
Project officer Bert Boer
Project type Contract research
Budget 269908 Euro

Can capturing global ecosystem values reduce poverty?

While tropical deforestation continues at alarming rate, some of cleared land is abandoned and replaced by natural regrowth or actively replanted, so that secondary forests are now ubiquitous across the tropics. Reforestation of degraded land in the tropics is often conducted in the expectation that disturbed streamflow regimes (commonly referred to as the ‘too little – too much’ syndrome) will be restored by the increased rainfall absorption afforded by soil improvement after tree planting. However, how reforestation of degraded land affects runoff generation mechanisms and streamflow is still poorly understood as most experimental studies have been conducted in non-degraded catchments. Evaporative losses (transpiration and interception) likely increase after reforestation, while infiltration rates are expected to increase and overland flow occurrence to decrease as a result of improved soil hydraulic conductivity with time after reforestation. The net result on groundwater recharge and water yield of these two opposing effects is poorly documented. To investigate this matter further, we first quantify the dominant hydrological processes (rainfall interception, transpiration, runoff generation, rainfall infiltration and percolation) operating under old-growth forest, young secondary forest and a degraded grass land in the high rainfall zone of Eastern Madagascar. Our novel empirical data will further develop and validate a widely used and freely available policy support tool (WaterWorld). Finally, we will investigate the trade-off between changes in vegetation water used and soil infiltration capacity after the reforestation.

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