Climate-Smart Watershed Investments in the Montane Tropics of South America


ClimateWIse will close an important knowledge gap by assessing the impact of land‐use and climate change on water resources in montane tropical South America. In this region, hydrologic impacts of changing land use and changing climate are poorly characterized yet have tremendous impact on water security for both urban and rural communities. Millions of people depend on water from páramo grasslands and Andean and Atlantic forests. Therefore it is critical to ensure clean, secure water through climate‐resilient source water protection.

The three-year project involves scientists from the University of Minnesota, the University of North Texas, the University of Sao Paulo, the University of Kassel and the Natural Capital Project with support from the Belmont Forum through national funding agencies (e.g. DFG), and will work to evaluate whether Investments in Watershed Services (IWS) projects are effective in increasing water quality and availability, right now and in the face of climate change. The main goals of the project are to (i) enhance sustainable water management by improving understanding of the hydrologic impacts of land‐use and climate change in the montane tropics, (ii) increase the scientific foundation for ecosystem services-based management, and (iii) enhance outcomes for water users throughout the region.

Within this project CESR is responsible for application of the large-scale modelling framework WaterGAP3 in the Andean and Atlantic Forest regions. Models run at this scale provide key background information for data‐scarce watersheds and also help contextualize IWS programs by quantifying the potential impact of drivers of water and land-use change that are external to yet interact with both IWS and changing climate.

Funding agency

Belmont Forum, DFG, NSF, FAPESP

Project duration

June 2016 − May 2019

Project management

Martina Flörke

Project staff

Christof Schneider