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IIS presents study at conference in South Africa

IIS researcher Viviane Dib presented a study about the role of forest restoration in groundwater recharge in the Atlantic Forest. The presentation took place during a conference of the Ecological Restoration Society (SER) in Cape Town.

In Brazil, groundwater is increasingly used to supply urban centers, industries, irrigation, and agriculture. Groundwater recharge is determined by a combination of variables such as soil type and management, vegetation cover, topography, and climate. Forest restoration can increase water infiltration and percolation, thus improving groundwater recharge. In order to guide policymaker decisions, it is necessary to establish priorities areas to be restored in Atlantic Forest – a very degraded and the most populated biome in the country. Here we developed a spatially explicit index of groundwater recharge (GR) based on six parameters: land use, soil drainage, relief, slope, pluviosity and rain seasonality. We calculated the GR index to the Atlantic Forest using thematic maps of these six parameters, which were reclassified, and each class was given a different weight ranging from 1 to 7 according to its recharge capacity. All maps were converted to raster format and resampled to achieve 1 km² resolution. The layers were then multiplied so we could obtain the GR index per pixel. In addition, we simulated the restoration of all the restorable areas within the Atlantic Forest (replacing agriculture and pasturelands for forests) and calculated the GR index again. We compared both scenarios (current and “restored”) to identify areas where forest restoration most improved groundwater recharge. We found that the Paraná River basin was the most benefited hydrographic region in the biome. Our results highlight the importance of spatial planning and help decision makers to define priority key areas to be restored, seeking water provision improvement.