Assessing the effectiveness of Sustainable Land Management for large-scale climate change adaptation

JPC Eekhout and J de Vente

July 17-30, 2019

LANDSIM-Regional Hands-On Training, Wageningen, The Netherlands

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Climate change will strongly affect essential ecosystem services, like the provision of freshwater, food production, soil erosion and flood control. Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices are increasingly promoted to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, but there is lack of evidence at scales most relevant for policymaking. We evaluated the effectiveness of SLM in a large Mediterranean catchment where climate change is projected to significantly reduce water security. We show that the on-site and off-site impacts of climate change are almost entirely reversed by the large-scale implementation of SLM under moderate climate change conditions, characterized by limited reductions in annual precipitation but significant increased precipitation intensity. Under more extreme reductions of annual precipitation, SLM implementation reduces the impacts on water security, but cannot prevent significant increased plant water stress and reduced water availability. Under these conditions, additional adaptation measures are required considering their interactions and trade-offs regarding water security.