Water dynamics under changing land cover
Abstract. Most of the forested headwater catchments are an important source of water supply in many parts of the world. A prime example is southeast Australia where forests supply major river systems and towns and cities with water. It is critical for an informed and adaptive water resource management to understand changes in streamflow caused by vegetation changes in these headwater forest catchments. Natural disturbances such as bushfires and anthropogenic activities like forestation, deforestation, or logging alter vegetation, evapotranspiration and soil water status, and may affect water supplies. Although catchment water yield is mainly controlled by climatic conditions, but it is also strongly influenced by land cover changes because of natural disturbances and anthropogenic activities. It is necessary to accurately estimate streamflow in water supply catchments subjected to dramatic land surface changes. This paper summarises the methods commonly used to investigate the impacts of land cover change on water resources, and provides some examples of impacts of afforestation/deforestation and bushfire on water resources in two southeast Australian catchments.