Sustaining ecosystem services important to humans while providing a dependable water supply for agriculture and urban needs is a major challenge faced by managers of human-dominated watersheds. Forests are considered to provide a wide variety of goods and ecosystem services (ES) to humanity, including production of timber and non-timber forest products, cultural and spiritual values to local and indigenous people, and they are also considered the best source of potable water for human use. This works intends to improve our understanding on ecological aspects that drive the forest-water relation and, their tradeoffs with social perceptions and legal frameworks that base forest conservation and restoration strategies in tropical countries, to improve decision making about water-ES supply. We will carry out: (1) a global meta-analysis to assessing effects of natural and restored forests on evapotranspiration, runoff and infiltration processes in tropical regions, (2) a global assessment of social and legal perceptions and regulations about these effects in tropical forest regions, (3) analysis of tradeoffs among ecological, socio-economic and legal aspects of the forest-water relation in two study cases. Considering the increasing pressure on water resources and hydrologic regulation that humans are placing on lands and the environment, results from this work will be very useful to build better predictive frameworks for understanding the consequences of vegetation change and also to guide future forest conservation and restoration projects, as well as payments for ecosystem services schemes.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: