Modelling hydrological effects of wetland restoration: a differentiated viewModelling hydrological effects of wetland restoration: a differentiated view
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Water science and technology. - Oxford
59(2009):3, p. 433-441
University of Antwerp
The paper presents findings of a conjunctive hydrological and ecological study into habitat restoration and catchment hydrology. Physically-based, fully distributed hydrological modelling was coupled with spatial analysis and wetland scenario generation techniques to simulate potential effects of restoring lower, middle, and upper catchment wetlands. In the past, anthropogenic interference of this catchments' landscape for agriculture and settlement has left most wetland areas drained, and brought the natural functioning of the ecosystem into conflict with human needs. Many eco-hydrology studies conclude that such disturbances result in a more extreme hydrological regime. The study objectives were to develop and study innovative methods for habitat restoration, and understand the potential hydrological impacts of each approach. The study aims to analyze the scenarios and whether the hydrological respon se is influenced by the topological placement of the restoration sites. Land-use change scenarios are developed on the basis of physical characteristics and consider the credibility of transitions from current land-use. This study focused on the position of the wetlands in the catchment and hydrological typology. Wetland restoration scenarios are created for different geographical settings within the catchment. A distinction is made between groundwater dependent wetlands and wetlands that are influenced by in-stream water tables or surface water inundations. Results show that there is little effect on the total annual water budget. The results point to river valley rewetting as having the effect of decreasing the paved overland component of stream flow, and increasing the saturated zone flow component. It promoted groundwater recharge. There was no increase of peak flows due to headwater wetlands, contrary to some sources (Bullock & Acreman 2003). The catchments' actual evapotranspiration and root zone water responses were found to be varied over the analysis points, and were the consequence of a number of factors. As a second conclusion we point out the main knowledge gaps and demerits that could compromise the modelling exercise. Land-use classification for hydrological modelling is subject to important ambiguities. Different maps often have different class definitions and methods for classification. Many in-between land use/land cover types do not fit any particular class definition in map classification. Wetlands were often found to be classified as grassland, leaf forest, or open water. How do we deal with the diversity of wetland types and how to incorporate their specific hydrological behaviour in models? These issues will be thoroughly illustrated for the case of the Grote Nete and put in a larger perspective.