A potential feedback between landuse and climate in the Rungwe tropical highland stresses a critical environmental research challenge

Abstract : Characteristic trends in landuse and climate highlight critical challenges in future resource management along the tropical topoclimosequence (TCS) of the Rungwe Volcanic Province (RVP), a major headwater biodiversity and food reservoir of Tanzania. The RVP orography supports a coherent distribution of agroecosystems and livelihoods, from hot irrigated lowlands to endangered afromontane forests above 1500 m.a.s.l. Recent increases in deforestation, land fragmentation and soil denudation/compaction in the densely populated TCS were combined with a strengthened need and consumption of water in the lower, warmer and drier end-member. Consistent with a regional decline of the long rains, a considerable (up to 30%) decrease in annual rainfall and a pervasive decline of the Lake Masoko (LM) aquifer testifies to a strong aridification trend. We suggest here that current landuse and demographic trends likely amplified the hydrological response of the TCS to regional and global warming. Testing such a hypothesis, however, requires improved local monitoring, to allow scaling and quantification of local hydrological budgets associated with landuse impacts, and evaluation of the contribution of trees and agroforestry systems to mitigating the aridification trend.
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David Williamson, Amos Majule, Manuëlla Delalande, Benard Mwakisunga, Pierre-Etienne Mathé, et al.. A potential feedback between landuse and climate in the Rungwe tropical highland stresses a critical environmental research challenge. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Elsevier, 2014, 6, pp.116 - 122. ⟨10.1016/j.cosust.2013.11.014⟩. ⟨hal-01465392⟩

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