Enhancing LULC scenarios impact assessment in hydrological dynamics using participatory mapping protocols in semiarid regions

David Rivas-Tabares*, Ana M. Tarquis, Ángel De Miguel, Anne Gobin, Bárbara Willaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Land use and land cover (LULC) scenarios in rural catchment hydrology are crucial to describe the effects of future water dynamics. However, there is a lack of understanding of the effectiveness of including static land covers at the subbasin level to provide inter-annual stability in changing the different water balance components. We developed a step-by-step mapping protocol to extend and enrich the hydrological assessment of future LULC scenarios defined through participatory stakeholder involvement. This novelty included specific allocation of static and dynamic LULC change among the scenarios and then compared the change of water dynamics to the current situation. For this, we quantified the LULC impact on the components of the water balance from three contrasting participatory scenarios implemented with the SWAT model in a rural basin in central Spain. The Land-sharing scenario (LSH) had the highest percentage of permanent grassland and shrubs and no increase of irrigated land compared to baseline. The land-sparing scenario (LSP) intensified agricultural land use close to urban areas, and the land balance scenario (LBA) was intermediate. The LSH increased the aquifer recharge by +1.7% and streamflow by +1.5%, while evapotranspiration and soil water storage decreased by -0.2%. In contrast, the LBA decreased in the riverine flux of -0.5%, an aquifer recharge of -0.6%, a soil water storage of -3.5%, and an evapotranspiration rate of +0.3%. Thus, LSH revealed that the allocation of permanent land cover such as grassland could buffer water dynamics, suggesting that dedicated planning and allocation of permanently vegetated LULC will favour land and water conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149906
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date1 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022


  • Agricultural catchments
  • Hydrology
  • LULC change
  • Participatory land use scenarios
  • Semi-arid
  • SWAT
  • Water balance


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