Water underpins all benefits that ecosystems provide, notably including agricultural production. The availability of water, in terms of both its quantity and quality, is influenced heavily by ecosystem functioning and therefore understanding the nexus of water and ecosystems and their services related to agriculture is critical in managing water and food security.
A range of important ecosystem services are explicitly linked to the water cycle; from providing clean drinking water to regulating the flow of flood events and creating opportunities for water-based recreation and cultural practices. Management approaches based on the ecosystem services concept are proposed in a range of water contexts; including climate change water-based adaptation, river basin and catchment management, and Integrated Water Resources Management
The challenge is to assess and value ecosystem services in the context of water management. For policy design and the prioritization of investments it is necessary to assess the benefits of conservation and restoration of watersheds. These benefits need to be quantified in biophysical as well as economic terms, for the ecosystem service and spatial scale of interest.

FutureWater approach

The FutureWater approach to value water-related ecosystem services consists of comprehensive scenario assessment through simulation of flows, analysis and visualization. Improved land management practices are individually assessed in relation to investment portfolios. Impacts are subsequently assessed on hydrological flows and water availability, and finally on financial and/or economic returns.
More specifically, scenario analysis is performed by combing various tools, namely:

  1. Hydrological modelling;
  2. Remote sensing, to derive indicators of degradation, and natural capacity of the landscape, and
  3. Return-on-investment analysis. Outputs of the biophysical assessment feed directly into the economic valuation.

In past and current work, FutureWater supports business cases for investing in improved watershed management, e.g. by improving forestry and agricultural practices, benefiting downstream water users. These business cases are then used to set up financial mechanisms in the basin and enable more healthy ecosystems and sustainable river basin management.

Related projects

  • Baseline Assessment for the Identification of Landscape Restoration Options in Kyrgyzstan

    FutureWater's role in this project is to provide remote sensing and GIS services with an aim of highlighting degraded areas of land in Kyrgyzstan and determining where restoration interventions are possible. The identification of highly degraded areas is achieved by analysing a number of remote sensing products, notably including NDVI…

  • Integrated Catchment Management in the Cagayan River Basin

    The Ridge to Coast, Rain to Tap: Sustainable Water Supply Project (R2CR2T) is an integrated approach to addressing flooding in the Cagayan River basin on Mindanao in the Philippines. FutureWater was hired to support the R2CR2T project and their local team on the development and application of a Decision Support…

  • Boundary Demarcation and Ecosystem Services Mapping of Inle Lake Region, Myanmar

    The assignment supports the newly established Inle Lake Management Authority (ILMA) by developing up-to-date, spatial datasets, which are to be included in the ILMA geodatabase. More specifically, the existing Inle Lake MAB boundary and zoning are confirmed and updated. Maps of land-use and different ecosystem services are produced and validated…

  • Water Resources and Eco-hydrological Assessments of Tonle Sap and Mekong Delta Basins

    The overall project objective is to support MOWRAM to make more informed, evidence-based water resources management and irrigation investment decisions through better understanding of water resources and ecosystems of two river basin groups: the Tonle Sap and the Mekong Delta. The project concerns (i) rapid water resources assessment of the…

  • Satellite-based monitoring of the health status of grasslands at the Alagon Valley

    This project is part of the technical-innovation support provided by FutureWater to ECOPRADERAS, an EIP-AGRI Operational Group which aims to improve the sustainable management of grasslands located at the Alagon Valley (Extremadura, Spain). Specific tasks included: the definition of a methodological framework for monitor the health of grasslands at the…

  • Review of the Kisii Water Supply project

    A large water supply project is being planned in the Lake Victoria region, Kenya, potentially providing reliable and clean water to around 500,000 people. The Dutch Government supports this project. An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was made by the developer. This ESIA needed to be reviewed by a…

  • Economic assessment of management alternatives in the protected areas of LAG Campoder

    This project aims to advertise about the environmental assets found in the LAG Campoder at the Murcia Region (SE Spain), and to quantify using social and economic techniques the degree in which these assets are perceived by local population. FutureWater is responsible for the characterization and description of three representative…

  • Inclusive development paths for healthy Red River landscapes

    Rapid land use changes in the Red River Basin threaten water resources. This project will be working in the Day River Catchment, a Red River distributary important for Hanoi, where most of these problems are manifest. The project will develop equitable and economically viable pathways for the land and water…