Forging sustainability

WAFLE - Water footprint profile assessment of forests - the case of eucalypt
Coordinator - Ana Cláudia Dias
Programme - Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (02/SAICT/2017)
Execution dates - 2019-01-01 - 2021-12-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020 co-funded by the FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional
Funding for CESAM - 239898 €
Total Funding - 239898 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro

The depletion of water resources and decline in water quality is one of the greatest challenges to meet sustainable development. The quantification of water use is crucial for identifying potential opportunities to reduce water consumption and pollution. In this context, the water footprint (WF) has been proposed recently as a tool based on life cycle assessment (LCA) for quantifying the potential environmental impacts related to water use. The WF profile is a compilation of impact category indicator results addressing potential environmental impacts related to water consumption and quality degradation. Although significant methodological advances have been achieved in the last few years to assess the WF profile, existing methods still need improvements, which are even more challenging for forest ecosystems. The WAFLE project aims at improving the WF calculation methods when applied to forests in order to make this tool more robust for supporting decision-making. The main topics for improvement are those identified by the scientific community and relate with the assessment of the impacts with spatial and temporal differentiation, the assessment of the impacts from green and blue water use, and using site-specific emission factors of pollutants. The case study of eucalypt forest in Central Portugal was selected for validating the methods developed and calculating the WF profile. The work will be carried out in five activities: - Activity 1: development of methods to assess the impacts of water consumption and eutrophication; - Activity 2: monitoring four eucalypt-dominated experimental catchments in Central Portugal with contrasting edaphoclimatic conditions and/or forest management practices; - Activity 3: calibration and validation of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model with hydro-meteorological data sets from Activity 2, followed by SWAT application to the four catchments for simulating hydrological and water quality parameters, over a full eucalypt rotation cycle of 30-45 years, under two distinct climate change scenarios and alternative forest management scenarios; - Activity 4: assessment of the WF profile of eucalypt forest, spatially and temporally differentiated, in the four contrasting catchments in present-day and under different climatic and management scenarios simulated in Activity 3, using the methods developed in Activity 1; - Activity 5: dissemination of the results. The project results will be relevant for the national and international scientific community, as well as for forest owners/managers and policy makers, by providing new scientifically sound methods and information for supporting decision-making towards better informed choices. The WAFLE team has complementary and consolidated experience in LCA and WF, as well as in hydrological monitoring and modelling. The transfer of knowledge to decision-makers will be facilitated by the creation of a Stakeholders Committee.

CESAM Funding: