Conservation as an adaption maneuver to freshwater ecosystem services degradation in a semi-arid, agriculturally dominated watershed: An InVEST modeling approach

Authors: Li Huang*, University of Idaho, Haifeng Liao, University of Idaho
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Environmental Science, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Conservation reserve program; Freshwater ecosystem services; Agriculture; Climate change; Scenario analysis; InVEST
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Balcony K, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Anthropogenic activities and climate change are two major factors challenging sustainable freshwater ecosystem services. This paper draws upon the case study of Portneuf River watershed, a semi-arid, agriculturally dominated watershed in Idaho state, USA, and applies the Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) modeling toolset to quantify the joint effects of agricultural land conservation policies and climate change on the water yield, water purification, and sediment retention services. Hypothesized Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) scenarios, the largest federal program to restore environmental sensitive spots by paying farmers to retire land from agricultural activities, are built as a viable adaption maneuver to mitigate adverse effects of global warming. The results show that under the current land use scenario, freshwater ecosystem services degradation is expected in the next fifty years due to water scarcity and concentration of nutrients and sediments in rivers and streams. However, with proper conservation policies, the trend could be relieved or reversed. By promoting croplands conservation and riparian protection, the water yield could be reserved by 30%, and the nutrient and sediment export could be reduced by 10% and 28% respectively. InVEST modeling further demonstrates the relative contributions of climate change and conservation on freshwater ecosystem services. The study suggests that more support from federal government to incentive programs like CRP should be devoted with flexibility to preserve the provisioning of freshwater ecosystem services, especially for regions vulnerable to climate and anthropogenic changes like the Portneuf River watershed.

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