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Integrating local and scientific knowledge to inform restoration of landscapes in the Paraíba Valley that produce local goods, conserve habitat and regulate water resources

Abstract

The frequency and intensity of both floods and water shortages in cities of the Região Metropolitana do Vale do Paraiba e Litoral Norte (RMVPLN) are increasing in recent decades, largely due to loss of riparian forest cover in rural areas of meso-basins in which the cities are located. Forests in these meso-basins also regulate water flowing to the key reservoirs as Jaguari and Paraitinga, over 6 million of people in Rio de Janeiro and factories in the delta of the River Paraiba do Sul downstream of the RMVPLN. The case of the flood and destruction of the historic center of São Luiz do Paraitinga in 2009 is now famous example of the importance of forest cover and landscape diversity both upstream and downstream of cities in the RMVPLN to regulate their water resources (Bizelli and Alves 2011). When São Paulo experience an extreme drought in 2015 urban planners resolved to construct access to the Jaguari reservoir in the RMVPLN, adding greater pressure to water resources there. What current and future urban and regional planners need to improve resilience of municipalities in the RMVPLN to hydro-climatic and market shocks are more holistic landscape approaches to planning at multiple scales that integrate urban and rural places and local, municipal and state plans. They also need sustained research of the successes and failures of policies and plans in reversing watershed degradation and maintaining flows of goods and services from those landscapes to downstream cities even when exposed to increasing hydro-climate and market shocks (Bennett et al. 2015; Diaz et al. 2015; McDonald et al. 2016). (AU)

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