Start date: 10/08/2018

Date of completion: 09/08/2021

RIVEAL – River and riparian forest values and ecosystem services in uncertain freshwater futures and altered landscapes

Rivers, riverine ecosystems and humans concur for space, water and energy. Riparian forests are multifunctional ecotones that generate a range of goods and services to human well-being and society, collectively called Ecosystem Services, ES. RIVEAL aims to quantify key-ES of riparian forests, and predict the gains/losses of ES under diverse climatic, land use and water management scenarios in the Portuguese fluvial landscapes. We focused in three ES: Fluvial Ecological Integrity (Supporting ES), Carbon Sequestration (Regulating ES), and Socio-cultural values (Cultural ES). These ecological and socio-economic challenges represent a huge undertaking and call for a spatially-explicit quantification of ES using georeferenced metrics and GIS-based approaches tailored by field data and addressing the needs from policy and decision-makers for local resolutions. Therefore the project is based in a transdisciplinary approach centred on the joint collaboration of ecologists, sociologists and modellers. Aiming to optimally address the issues raised in the proposal, RIVEAL is supported by a consortium composed by two institutions of the University of Lisbon, the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, ISA (leading institution) and the Instituto de Ciências Sociais (ICS) and two Universities on the Centre region, the Universidade de Coimbra (UC) and the Universidade de Aveiro (UA).

Since diverse dam types alter differently the quantity, quality and timing of stream flows and consequently the flow of ES, we addressed two case studies in agricultural landscapes of Portugal: River Lima impaired by the run-of-river Touvedo dam, and River Alva regulated by Fronhas, a storage reservoir deriving water to another watershed. ISA team will quantify the Carbon sequestration ES of riparian forests for the first time in Portugal, resourcing to very high resolution imagery (~4 cm/pixel) of riparian landscapes obtained from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology and further calibrated with floristic surveys and field data measurements. For the Fluvial Ecological Integrity ES, ISA, UA and UC will jointly assess the diverse functional associations (e.g. trophic and habitat interactions, facilitation) between distinct biological communities (riparian vegetation, aquatic plants, diatoms, benthic invertebrates) to tackle the complex nature of change in regulated rivers. To address the Socio-cultural ES, ICS will conduct dedicated workshops for stakeholders and use Participatory Action Research to envision future land uses and freshwater needs. Outputs from Regulating (Carbon sequestration; ISA) and Cultural ES (socio-cultural values; ICS) will be included in Bayesian decision models. An on-line tool (RIVEAL-ES tool) will be developed from the models obtained which will be able to return tradeoffs on management choices and to prioritize where investment in natural capital can enhance ES.

The ICS team will be in charge of Activity A5 – Socio-Cultural Values: The Value of Well-Being. This will tackle the value of river landscapes in the sense that they are used for economic activities (such as tourism), leisure, enjoyment of natural heritage, health and relaxation purposes according with the perceptions and relations of local populations and visitors, tourists and other users (fishermen, hunters, etc.). Besides the assessment of Ecosystem Services, a workshop with stakeholders and end-users will define potential future socio-economic scenarios, land-uses and freshwater needs (to feed A6 Riveal-Es: Development Of Bayesian Models).

Luísa Schmidt (coord.) and Ana Delicado.