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Spatio-temporal patterns of four neighbouring river-scapes in the central Western Ghats, India through land-use analyses using temporal remote sensing data (1973, 2018), reveal a decline in evergreen forests (41%) and fragmentation of intact or contiguous forests (60%). Hydro-ecological footprint illustrates that catchment integrity plays a decisive role in sustaining water for societal and ecological needs. This is evident from the occurrence of perennial streams in the catchment dominated by native flora with forest cover greater than 60%, highlighting the riverscape dynamics with hydrological, ecological, social and environmental dimension linkages and water sustainability. This helps in evolving strategies to adopt integrated watershed management to sustain anthro-pogenic and environmental water demand.
Method adopted for the analyses of eco-hydrological footprint with forest transitions. Sharavati rivers), and irrigation for the vast expanse of horticulture and monoculture plantations. Upper reaches of the Kali, Gangavali and Sharavati have a large number of interconnected lake systems (lentic ecosystems), while the WG are dominated by a dense drainage network. As of 2018, Gangavali catchment has the highest population (1.01 million) followed by Kali (0.54 million), Sharavati (0.35 million), Aghanashini (0.24 million) and Venkatapura (0.17 million) 34 . Population growth rate between 2001 and 2011 was highest in the Gangavali (15.3%), followed by Venkatapura (14.5%) and least in the Kali (8.9%). Venkatapura has the highest population density (377 persons/km 2 ), followed by Gangavali (258 persons/km 2 ) and lowest in the Kali (107 persons/km 2 ). Topographically, the coastal zone (in the west) and plain lands (towards the east) are flat with slopes (ranging up to 5°); the transition zones between the coast and the WG and the transition zones between the WG and eastern plain lands have slopes up to 15°. The WG have slopes greater than 15° (refs 35, 36). Interconnected lake systems in the plains were developed during the Kadamba (525-345 BCE) and Hoysala (AD 1063-1353) periods to cater to domestic and irrigation water requirements. This study is based on field ecological research carried out to understand the linkages of landscape dynamics with ecohydrological footprints in the four major west-flowing river basins of Uttara Kannada district.
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CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1379
*For correspondence. (e-mail:
Insights into riverscape dynamics with the
hydrological, ecological and social dimensions
for water sustenance
T. V. Ramachandra1,2,3,*, S. Vinay1,4, S. Bharath1, M. D. Subash Chandran1 and
Bharath H. Aithal1,4
1Energy and Wetland Research Group, Centre for Ecological Science,
2Centre for Sustainable Technologies (astra), and
3Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru 560 012, India
4RCG School of Infrastructure Design and Management, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Kharagpur 721 302, India
Spatio-temporal patterns of four neighbouring river-
scapes in the central Western Ghats, India through
land-use analyses using temporal remote sensing data
(1973, 2018), reveal a decline in evergreen forests
(41%) and fragmentation of intact or contiguous
forests (60%). Hydro-ecological footprint illustrates
that catchment integrity plays a decisive role in sus-
taining water for societal and ecological needs. This is
evident from the occurrence of perennial streams in
the catchment dominated by native flora with forest
cover greater than 60%, highlighting the riverscape
dynamics with hydrological, ecological, social and
environmental dimension linkages and water sustai-
nability. This helps in evolving strategies to adopt
integrated watershed management to sustain anthro-
pogenic and environmental water demand.
Keywords: Biodiversity, eco-hydrological footprint,
land use, lotic ecosystems, water quality.
RIVERINE ecosystems encompass ecological, social and
economic processes (ecosystem functions) that intercon-
nect biotic components and provide goods and services
for the society. Degradation of these vital ecosystems has
been the primary cause for increasing water insecurity,
raising the need for integrated solutions to freshwater
management. Sustainable management of freshwater
flows is fundamental to the four dimensions of develop-
ment, namely social needs, economic development, eco-
logical integrity and environmental limits. However,
unplanned developmental activities during the past four
decades have been altering the land cover affecting phy-
sical integrity, bio-geochemical cycling, hydrological
regimes, biodiversity, etc. This makes it necessary to un-
derstand: (i) the landscape dynamics and its relation with
the hydrological and biological entities for determining
the level of services provided by the ecosystem, and (ii)
linkages of ecosystem structure with its functional capa-
bilities, which are essential to frame appropriate man-
agement strategies towards mitigation of impacts.
Aquatic ecosystems are the destination of precipitation
(surface and subsurface water) in the hydrological cycle,
and are broadly categorized as lentic and lotic ecosys-
tems. Lentic ecosystem refers to stationary or relatively
still water bodies (such as lakes, ponds, etc.), while lotic
ecosystem refers to flowing water (such as streams and
rivers). Water sustenance in the aquatic ecosystems de-
pends on the integrity of the catchment as vegetation
helps in retarding the velocity of water by allowing im-
poundment and recharging of groundwater through infil-
tration. As water moves in the terrestrial ecosystem, part
of it gets percolated, while another fraction gets back to
the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration.
Forests with native vegetation act as a sponge by retain-
ing and regulating the transfer of water between land and
atmosphere1,2. The mechanism by which vegetation
controls flow regime is dependent on various bio-
physiographic characteristics, namely type of vegetation,
species composition, maturity, density, structure, aerody-
namic and surface resistance, root density and depth, hy-
dro-climatic condition, etc. Roots of vegetation help in:
(i) binding the soil, and (ii) improving soil structure by
enhancing the stability of aggregates, which provide habi-
tat for diverse microfauna and flora leading to higher
porosity of soil, thereby making conduits for infiltration
through the soil3. Native species of vegetation with the
assemblage of diverse species help in recharging the
groundwater, mitigating floods, and other hydro-
ecological processes4. These functions augment with the
age/maturity of the forests, their diversity, density of
plant species, etc. In mature forests, streams are perennial
with sustained yield (during all seasons), due to infiltra-
tion and storing of water in the subsurface (which gets
released to the streams during the lean season). Also, the
annual surface transpiration reduces with increase in
understorey transpiration5. Revival of natural forest capa-
bilities through reforestation or afforestation would take
about 20–25 years in the tropical ecosystems and
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
achievement of full potential about 40–50 years6,7. This
necessitates safeguarding and maintaining the existing
native forest patches to sustain hydrological regime,
which caters to biotic (ecological and societal) demands.
An undisturbed native forest has consistent hydrological
regime with sustained flows during the lean season8.
Aquatic ecosystems are the most threatened systems in
India due to alterations in the landscape structure
(changes in the land cover), anthropogenic inputs (dis-
posal of untreated or partially treated wastewater), con-
struction of reservoirs (altering the flow regime), water
abstraction, river channelization (narrowing drains and
concretization), etc. which in turn affect the physical and
chemical integrity of the system. The spatial and temporal
variability in freshwater stock with the burgeoning so-
cietal demands has resulted in anthropocentric regulation
of river flow through construction of reservoirs, diversion
works, etc. causing significant alterations in the hydro-
logical regime and river morphology9. In general, dams
are constructed for irrigation, hydroelectric power genera-
tion, domestic and industrial water supply, recreation and
for controlling floods. Size and functionality of dams affect
land use, livelihoods, local climate, hydrology and econ-
omy. Reservoirs and other storage structures, and diversion
works have impacted the hydrological regime of rivers,
which includes loss of interconnectivity along rivers, frag-
mentation of catchment, changes in hydrological processes,
downstream erosion10,11 and alterations in the flow re-
gime of freshwater impacting downstream biota12,13.
Ecological integrity of riverine ecosystem depends on
river morphology, river connectivity, water quality14–17,
quantum, duration and velocity of water flow which
influences the aquatic biodiversity. Ecosystem fragility
refers to the extent to which a system experiences damage
caused by sustained exposure to different stress agents
that can cause environmental changes or changes in eco-
system functions16,17. Sustenance of water in the rivers,
streams and wetlands during all seasons is crucial to
maintain aquatic health and sustain biodiversity. The
freshwater flows in terms of quantity and timing are es-
sential to maintain the process and functioning of fresh-
water resources18,19. The health of a river (water body)
deteriorates when the flow is either reduced or inhibited
below a threshold required to sustain aquatic life20 or
environmental flow20 (also known as ecological flow or
instream flow or minimal flow). Maintaining environ-
mental flow in streams and rivers is necessary to meet the
needs of aquatic biota along with the societal demand21,
sustain the health of an aquatic system22, manage flow
and protect water bodies and river networks23, maintain
and enhance the ecological character and functions of
floodplains, wetlands and riverine ecosystems which may
be subject to stress from drought, climate change or water
resource development24,25.
Four river basins in the central Western Ghats with
varied levels of anthropogenic stress have been chosen to
understand the implications of large-scale changes in the
respective landscape structures27,28 on the hydrological
regime, social needs, economic development, ecological
integrity and environmental limits.
The Western Ghats (WG) are a range of ancient hills
that run parallel to the west coast of India covering an
approximate area of 160,000 km2. They extend between
8°N and 21°N lat. and 73°E and 77°E long. The region is
endowed with diverse ecological areas depending upon
altitude, latitude, rainfall and soil characteristics28. The
WG are among eight hot spots of biodiversity in India29
and 36 global biodiversity hotspots30 with exceptional
endemic flora and fauna. Natural forests of the WG have
been providing various goods and services31, and are
endowed with species of more than 4600 flowering plants
(38% endemic), 330 butterflies (11% endemic), 156 rep-
tiles (62% endemic), 508 birds (4% endemic), 120 mam-
mals (12% endemic), 289 fishes (41% endemic) and 135
amphibians (75% endemic)32. Numerous streams origi-
nate in the WG, which drain millions of hectares area,
ensuring water and food security for 245 million people,
and hence the region is known as the ‘water tower’ of
peninsular India. The region has tropical evergreen
forests, moist deciduous forests, scrub jungles, sholas,
savannas, including high-rainfall savannas of which 10%
of the forest area is under legal protection. Areca nut,
coconut, coffee, rubber, sugarcane and tea are the horti-
cultural crops, and spices, paddy, cereals and cotton are
major agricultural crops grown across the region.
The WG landscape consists of heterogeneous interact-
ing dynamic elements with complex ecological, economic
and cultural attributes. The interactions among the land-
scape elements result in the flow of nutrients, minerals
and energy, which contributes to the functioning of the
landscape. This complex interaction helps in the susten-
ance of natural resources through bio-geochemical and
hydrological cycles. The changes in landscape structure
have been altering the ecosystem functions.
The landscape in peninsular India with relic forests and
perennial rivers has been catering to the societal water
demand, while ensuring food security. The region is rich
in biodiversity with numerous species of flora and fauna.
Fragmentation of large contiguous forests to small and
isolated forest patches either by natural phenomena or
anthropogenic activities has led to drastic changes in the
size of the forest patch, its shape, connectivity and inter-
nal heterogeneity, which restrict the movement of species
leading to inbreeding among meta population with extir-
pation of the species.
The impacts of unplanned developmental activities26
are evident with: (i) the existence of barren hill tops, (ii)
conversion of perennial streams to intermittent or season-
al streams, (iii) flash floods during monsoon and droughts
during summer, (iv) pollution of ecosystems, (v) change
in water quality, (vi) soil erosion and sedimentation27,
(vii) extinction of endemic flora and fauna, and (viii) loss
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1381
Figure 1. Study area.
of habitats, breeding grounds, etc. The region is ecologi-
cally fragile and vulnerable with high susceptibility to
anthropogenic stress. This necessitates assessment of eco-
hydrological footprint which will aid in the prudent man-
agement of fragile ecosystems to sustain: (i) natural flow
regime, (ii) ecosystem goods and services, and (iii) live-
lihood of the people. The present study involves analysis
of land-use dynamics with hydrologic regime to assess
eco-hydrological footprints (water availability with de-
mand to meet the societal and ecological needs), across
the river scapes in the central WG with varied levels of
anthropogenic stress. The results of the study could help
evolve appropriate integrated management strategies to
ensure sustenance of water, supporting biodiversity and
people’s livelihood.
Study area
Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka, located in the central
WG (Figure 1), lies between 13.769°N and 15.732°N lat.,
and 74.124°E and 75.169°E long., covering an area of
approximately 10,291 km2. The district extends for a
maximum length of 180 km along the N–S direction and
a maximum width of 110 km along the E–W direction.
The Arabian Sea borders it on the west creating a long,
continuous and narrow coastline of 120 km. The district
has varied geographical features with thick forests, pe-
rennial rivers and abundant flora and fauna. It falls in
three agro-climatic zones (i) the coastal region, which
has a hot humid climate where rainfall varies between
3000 and 4500 mm; (ii) the Sahyadri interior region of
the WG (500–1000 m elevation), in the south which is
humid, where rainfall varies between 4000 and 5500 mm,
and (iii) the plains on the east which are regions of transi-
tion that are dry, where rainfall varies between 1500 and
2000 mm. The district has four major rivers namely Kali
with a catchment of 5085 km2; Gangavali (Bedthi;
3935 km2); Aghanashini (1448 km2) and Sharavati
(3042 km2). Venkatapura, a relatively small river with a
catchment of 460 km2 and innumerable creeks is also
found33. They all discharge into the Arabian Sea. These
rivers are under various levels of stress like regulation of
water flow for hydro-electric power generation (Kali and
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
Figure 2. Method adopted for the analyses of eco-hydrological footprint with forest transitions.
Sharavati rivers), and irrigation for the vast expanse of
horticulture and monoculture plantations. Upper reaches
of the Kali, Gangavali and Sharavati have a large number
of interconnected lake systems (lentic ecosystems), while
the WG are dominated by a dense drainage network.
As of 2018, Gangavali catchment has the highest popu-
lation (1.01 million) followed by Kali (0.54 million),
Sharavati (0.35 million), Aghanashini (0.24 million) and
Venkatapura (0.17 million)34. Population growth rate
between 2001 and 2011 was highest in the Gangavali
(15.3%), followed by Venkatapura (14.5%) and least in
the Kali (8.9%). Venkatapura has the highest population
density (377 persons/km2), followed by Gangavali (258
persons/km2) and lowest in the Kali (107 persons/km2).
Topographically, the coastal zone (in the west) and plain
lands (towards the east) are flat with slopes (ranging up
to 5°); the transition zones between the coast and the WG
and the transition zones between the WG and eastern
plain lands have slopes up to 15°. The WG have slopes
greater than 15° (refs 35, 36). Interconnected lake sys-
tems in the plains were developed during the Kadamba
(525–345 BCE) and Hoysala (AD 1063–1353) periods to
cater to domestic and irrigation water requirements. This
study is based on field ecological research carried out to
understand the linkages of landscape dynamics with eco-
hydrological footprints in the four major west-flowing
river basins of Uttara Kannada district.
Data and methodology
Figure 2 describes the method adopted for assessing the
role of landscape dynamics with ecological, hydrological
and social dimensions in lotic ecosystems. This involves:
(i) assessment of spatio-temporal patterns of land cover
using multi-resolution remote sensing data, and (ii)
assessment of eco-hydrological footprint through analy-
ses of rainfall patterns and hydrological regime with the
demand of biotic components.
Data collection
Optical satellite data from Landsat 1 MSS (1973), Land-
sat 8 OLI (2018) and topographic data from SRTM were
downloaded from the United States Geological Survey
(USGS)37. GPS-based field observations, Survey of India
(SOI) topographic maps36,38, French Institute, Puducherry
maps39, virtual earth data such as Google Earth40, and
NRSC Bhuvan41 were used to geo-rectify and classify
remote sensing data for identifying land-use categories.
Long-term meteorological data such as temperature, rain-
fall and solar radiation were collected from Karnataka
State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, Karnataka42;
Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of
Karnataka43; India Meteorological Department44, and
Food and Agriculture Organisation45. Population census
data for 2001 and 2011 were collected from the Census of
India34. Livestock data such as census and water require-
ment were collected from the Directorate of Economics
and Statistics43, District Statistical Office, Bengaluru46,
and through public interviews. Agriculture data such as
the crops grown, cropping pattern, water requirement at
different growth phases were collected from the District
Statistical Office, Bengaluru46, public interviews; online
portals such as Raitamitra, iKisan, Tamil Nadu Agriculture
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1383
University, etc.47–50 and published literatures. Field inves-
tigations in selected stream catchments were carried out
for 24 months to understand the intra- and inter-
variability of hydrological regime in the central WG and
information regarding ungauged streams was compiled
from the published literature. Steams were chosen based
on land cover in the catchment as: (i) dominated by vege-
tation of native species to the extent of >60%; (ii) domi-
nated by vegetation of monoculture species, and (iii)
vegetation cover in the catchment <35%. This helped in
understanding the natural flow regime of surface run-off,
subsurface flows and infiltration dynamics to estimate the
minimum flow to sustain aquatic life (also known as
environmental flow or ecological flow)51–55 for rivers in
the central WG. Species composition and distribution
pertaining to flora and fauna were mapped through qua-
drat-based transects in the field (representative regions
across different forest types), biodiversity portals56–58,
Forest Department records59 and published literature60–71,
and species distribution database was developed consi-
dering their occurrence26,56–59,72–76, habitat (villages, tran-
sects, GPS coordinates, forest ranges), conservation
status77, etc. The spatial overlay of biodiversity informa-
tion with the hydrological regime provided valuable
insights on hydrological, ecological and biodiversity
linkages with land-use dynamics across the four river
basins with various levels of anthropogenic stress.
Land-use dynamics
Satellite data for 1973 and 2018 were resampled to 30 m
resolution in order to maintain the same spatial resolu-
tion78. Training sites were developed based on field in-
formation (collected using pre-calibrated handheld GPS)
and secondary data sources such as SOI topographic
maps, vegetation map published by the French Institute,
Puducherry and virtual globe datasets. The pre-processed
satellite data were classified using supervised Gaussian
maximum likelihood classification technique79. Also,
60% of the field data collected was used for classifica-
tion, while 40% was used for accuracy assessment80. Ad-
ditional training/field data were used and the process was
repeated when classification accuracy was less than 80%.
Land-use information of 1973 and 2018 were compared
for assessing spatio-temporal patterns of landscape dyna-
Spatial distribution of forests was extracted from the
land-use information of 1973 and 2018. The binary maps
of forest and non-forest areas were used for fragmenta-
tion analysis81, which also emphasizes their relationship
with biodiversity82,83, climate change84, etc. Forest frag-
mentation at pixel level was estimated based on an earlier
proven protocol85, by computing Pf (the ratio of pixels
that are forested to the total non-water pixels in the win-
dow) and Pff (the proportion of all adjacent (cardinal
directions only) pixel pairs that include at least one forest
pixel, for which both pixels are forested) indicators.
Based on the level of fragmentation, forests were classi-
fied as interior (intact or contiguous), patch, transition,
edge and perforated forests.
Species distribution and water quality
Water quality of the samples collated from field experi-
ments at various locations in each of the river basins and
also from the published literature68 was analysed based
on various physical, chemical and biological parameters.
The surface water standards were used to define water
quality status as highly polluted, polluted and non-
Spatial patterns of temperature variation were computed
based on mono window algorithm86,87, using red, NIR and
thermal IR (band 10) Landsat 8 data for 2018.
Eco-hydrological footprint
Eco-hydrological footprint of a river basin is computed
through assessment of hydrological regime for sustaining
vital ecological functions and appropriation of water by
biotic components (including humans).
Biotic demand includes societal, terrestrial ecosystem
demand and aquatic ecosystem demand (minimum flow
required to sustain aquatic biotic components, also known
as ecological flow). Societal demands include water
requirement for agriculture, horticulture, domestic and
livestock sectors88–90. Transpiration and evaporation
from the forests alone have been accounted for under
terrestrial water demand. Minimum flows (e-flows) to be
maintained to sustain aquatic life were computed based
on field observations53–55,91,92, which show about 25% of
annual flow needs to be maintained as natural flow
regime during the lean season to maintain ecological
Natural water catering to societal and environmental
needs depends on rainfall, land use, soil and lithological
characteristics of the catchment (or watershed). Water
supply in the catchments is considered as a function of
overland flows, and subsurface (vadose and saturated
zones) flows (pipe flow and base flow). Overland flows
were monitored for 18 months at 12 locations across the
river basins. They were estimated sub-catchment-wise for
each river basin using the rational method93, and the cat-
chment coefficients for varied land uses were based on
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
Figure 3. Dynamics in land use, forest cover and forest fragmentation across the west-flowing rivers of central Western Ghats, India.
field observations. Groundwater recharge was estimated
using the Krishna Rao’s equation, which holds good for
Karnataka51. Subsurface flows were estimated based on
the specific yield of rocks and porosity of soils88.
Monthly supply (based on hydrological regime assess-
ment) was compared with the biotic demands in order to
understand the eco-hydrological status in every sub-
catchment; ratio < 1 indicates deficit while ratio > 1 indi-
cates surplus or sufficient situation.
Eco-hydrology and landscape structure linkages
Spatial variability and fragmentation status of forests,
temperature, species distribution and water quality were
compared spatially with the eco-hydrological status to
understand the linkages of these variables with water sus-
Results and discussion
Status and transition of forest
These were evaluated through the assessment of land-use
dynamics and fragmentation of forest landscapes using
the temporal remote sensing data of 1973 and 2018. Fig-
ure 3 presents land-use dynamics with the fragmentation
of forests across four major river catchments of Uttara
Kannada district in the central WG. Figure 4 presents
river basin-wise statistics. Land-use analyses using tem-
poral remote sensing data reveal that the overall forest
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1385
Figure 4. Land use and forest fragmentation dynamics.
cover in the district has declined from 74.19% (1973) to
48.04% (2018), with the loss of evergreen forests from
56.07% to 24.85%. The loss of forest cover is due to
developmental activities with aggravated anthropogenic
activities94 such as (i) construction of dams along River
Kali post-1975, without appropriate rehabilitation and
catchment restoration measures, (ii) increase in monocul-
ture plantations such as teak, eucalyptus, acacia by the
Forest Department as part of social forestry scheme, (iii)
conversion of area under forests to agriculture, horticul-
ture or private plantations82,95, (iv) increase in built-up
area, (v) setting up of forest-based industries, and (vi)
nuclear power plant at Kaiga in the midst of evergreen
Fragmentation process involves alteration in the struc-
ture and composition of native forests through the divi-
sion of contiguous forests into smaller non-contiguous
fragments with a sharp increase in the edges. This will
have detrimental effects such as disruption in bio-geoche-
mical cycling, nutrient and water cycling, ecological
processes, forests and further land-use changes. About
64,355 ha of forest land has been diverted for
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
various non-forestry activities (such as paper industries,
hydroelectric and nuclear power projects and commercial
plantations) during the last four decades75. Hence, the
terrestrial forest ecosystems in Uttara Kannada district,
central WG have been experiencing fragmentation of
contiguous forests, evident from the decline of interior or
contiguous forests from 62.71% (1970) to 24.74% (2018),
and consequent increase in patch, transitional, edge and
perforated forests. This has led to the loss of connectivity
of natural/native vegetation and straying of wild animals
into human habitations. Instances of human–animal con-
flicts has increased. There is also extirpation of genes due
to higher inbreeding, loss of biodiversity, absence of
native pollinators, etc. Spurt in urban growth is witnessed
in and around major towns such as Sirsi, Siddapura,
Karwar, Hubli, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar, Dandeli,
etc. Encroachment of forest lands of the order of 7072 ha
(ref. 75) and conversion to agriculture, horticulture and
private plantations is prevalent throughout the district
(except those designated as protected areas) across all
agro-climatic zones (coast, Western Ghats (hilly zones),
plains and transition zones).
River basin-wise land-use analysis (Figure 4) reveals
that anthropogenic activities involving monoculture (both
forest plantation and horticulture) plantations and exploi-
tation of timber in the Aghanashini river basin have led to
the decline in forest cover from 86.08% (1973) to 50.65%
(2018), followed by river basins of Kali (37.8%), Ganga-
vali (37.7%) and Sharavati (23.3%).
Evergreen forest cover in Aghanashini riverscape has
declined from 72.15% (1973) to 24.09% (2018), while
moist deciduous forest cover has increased from 9.79% to
25.76% during this period. While there has been a sharp
increase in agricultural activity from 4.46% to 16.38% in
the coastal regions, in the WG and transition zones to the
east, horticulture practices (areca nut gardens) have in-
creased from 3.63% to 10.68%, especially along the river
valleys and stream courses. Urban growth has picked up
as indicated by increase in built-up area from 0.1% to
4.87% in the proximity of the coast (Gokarna and Kumta)
and along the WG (Sirsi). There has been a reduction in
the interior forest cover from 73.28% to 17.78%, with
increase in edge forests (from 8.71% to 19.65%) and
transitional forests (from 1.86% to 8.23%).
Construction of a series of dams in the Kali river basin
at Supa, Kodasalli, Kadra, etc. has resulted in loss of for-
est cover (from 87.26% to 54.24%) and in particular
evergreen forests (from 61.82% to 30.5%)52. Due to
availability of water and lack of appropriate regulatory
mechanisms, there have been encroachments into the
forests in the eastern part of the catchment (near Hubli
and Belgaum) leading to increase in agricultural and hor-
ticulture activities (17.02%–22.15%). Overall, the forest
cover in Kali river basin has reduced. Infrastructure acti-
vities (Karwar, Hubli–Dharwad) have boosted the growth
of urban areas from 0.39% to 2.95%. All these pressures
have reduced the contiguous, native, intact forests from
78.95% to 33.2% in the Kali river basin.
Similar levels of anthropogenic stress were witnessed
in the Sharavati river basin, which has led to the decline
in forest cover from 61.97% to 47.55% with the loss of
evergreen forests (from 52.68% to 27.11%) and a two-fold
increase in deciduous forests. Human–animal conflicts
have increased due to the disruption of animal movement
paths with the decline of contiguous forests from 45.88%
to 23.97% and loss of fodder, water, etc. with decline of
native vegetation. There has been an increase in urban
spaces (0.45%–2.05%), and horticulture lands (2.13%–
15.91%). There was also a decline in agricultural practic-
es in Sharavati river basin with large-scale conversion of
paddy fields into cash-crop fields like areca gardens.
Eco-hydrological footprint
Assessment of eco-hydrological footprint at sub-catch-
ment level across the four major river basins of Uttara
Kannada district was carried out considering: (i) biotic
demands: blue water demand (agriculture, domestic,
livestock, aquatic, ecological needs), green water demand
(evapotranspiration), and (ii) hydrological regime consi-
dering surface (overland) flow and subsurface (vadose
and saturated zones), flow (pipe and base flow) (Figure
5). The societal and environmental water demand was
highest in Kali (7075 M.m3), followed by Gangavali
(5501 M.m3), Sharavati (4827 M.m3) and Aghanashini
(2204 M.m3). Upper reaches in all these basins have
witnessed major land-use changes with increase in agri-
cultural and horticultural areas, and sustained water de-
mand throughout the year. Analysis of water demand
based on cropping pattern (agriculture and horticulture)
indicates that the Gangavali river basin has the highest
demand (2597 M.m3), followed by Kali (2272 M.m3),
Sharavati (1975 M.m3) and Aghanashini (765 M.m3).
Based on flow, streams have been classified into three
categories as perennial (with 12 months flow), intermit-
tent (6–8 months flow) and seasonal (four months flow,
only during monsoon). Figure 6 confirms the role of na-
tive forests (contiguous or interior forests) in sustaining
perennial stream flow. Intermittent or seasonal streams
are found in areas with the catchment dominated by de-
graded forest patches. The streams are perennial when the
catchment is dominated by vegetation (> 60%) of native
species. This is mainly due to infiltration or percolation
in the catchment, where the soil is more porous in areas
with native species. Diverse microorganisms in the soil
interact with plant roots, which help in the transfer of nu-
trients from the soil to plants, and maintains soil porosity
or premeability. Analyses of soil sample from the catch-
ments of perennial and intermittent streams reveal that
soils in the perennial stream catchments have highest
moisture content (61.47%–61.57%), higher nutrients
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1387
Figure 5. Eco-hydrological footprint (water availability) across the basins.
(C, N and K) and lower bulk density (0.50–0.57 g/cm3).
Compared to this, soils in the catchment of intermittent
and seasonal streams have higher bulk density (0.87–
1.53 g/cm3) and relatively lower nutrient content. Due to
this, water infiltrates and fills the underlying zones
vadose and saturated zones in the catchments of perennial
The region receives rainfall for about four months and
the surface run-off during monsoon is due to precipita-
tion. After the monsoon recedes, the water stored in the
vadose and saturated zones flows laterally towards the
stream for about 6–8 months (as pipe flow in the post-
monsoon period of four months and base flow during
summer). Water infiltration allows storage in the saturated
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
Figure 6. Eco-hydrology and forest linkages.
and vadose zones, which is crucial for sustenance of
water in the streams during lean season. This emphasizes
that vegetation helps in retarding water flow in the cat-
chment by allowing infiltration. Contiguous forests of
native species moderate the local climate (through trans-
piration) and also act as a sponge by retaining water,
which is released slowly to the streams during the lean
season, thereby sustaining water availability in the cat-
chment to meet biotic needs throughout the year. Streams
in the catchment dominated by a single species (monocul-
ture plantations) had adequate flow for 6–8 months. This
is mainly because of lower infiltration due to higher bulk
density of soil and also because litter of monoculture
plants requires longer time for degradation. Water availa-
bility for four months is observed in the streams of the
degraded catchment with vegetation cover less than 30%.
At the sub-catchment level across all four river basins,
field investigations confirmed higher infiltration (almost
twice) compared to transpiration in sub-catchments with
intact forests of native species. There was increase in sur-
face water flow (during monsoon) and reduced flow (or
no flow) during non-monsoon in the sub-catchments as-
sociated with degraded and altered landscapes, changes in
the physical properties of soil and local temperature. The
land-use alterations due to intense societal pressures with
increasing water demands have led to negative eco-
hydrological footprint with water scarcity ranging be-
tween 4 and 8 months.
Assessment of eco-hydrological status confirms the
role of forests with native species in retaining water (in
the catchment), which is available to meet the demands
throughout the year.
Field ecological survey through quadrat-based tran-
sects (156) along with opportunistic studies yielded 1068
species of flowering plants representing 138 families. Of
these, 278 were tree species (from 59 families), 285 were
shrubs species (73 families) and 505 were herb species
(55 families). Moraceae, the family of figs (Ficus spp.),
which constitutes keystone resource for animals, was
represented by maximum tree species (18), followed by
Euphorbiaceae (16), Leguminosae (15), Lauraceae (14),
Anacardiaceae (13) and Rubiaceae (13 species). Shrub
species richness was represented by Leguminosae (32
species), Rubiaceae (24) and Euphorbiaceae (24 species).
Among herbs, grasses (Poaceae) were the most specious
(77 species), followed by sedges (Cyperaceae) with 67
species Orchids (Orchidaceae) were found in good num-
bers96,97. The flora in the contiguous forests of the district
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1389
included the most threatened and vulnerable species such
as Wisneria triandra, Holigarna beddomei, Holigarna
grahamii, Garcinia gummi gutta, Hopea ponga, Diospy-
ros candolleana, Diospyros paniculata, Diospyros
saldanhae, Cinnamomum malabatrum, Myristica malaba-
rica and Psydrax umbellate. Wildlife included predators
such as tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard, wild dog (dhole)
and sloth bear. Prey animals like barking deer, spotted
deer (Axis axis), wild boar, sambar (Cervus unicolor),
gaur (Bos gaurus) were also found.
Figure 6 shows forest status (forest cover, fragmenta-
tion) in relation to temperature, flora, fauna, water qua-
lity, flow duration and eco-hydrological status across the
river basins. The correlation among these variables is
evident from the occurrence of: (i) endemic species of
flora (100 species per sub-basin), (ii) fauna (50 species
per sub basin), (iii) occurrence of perennial streams, (iv)
good water quality, (v) moderate temperature, and (vi)
sufficient water availability in the catchments with conti-
guous intact native forests. On the contrary, degraded
landscape supports lower floral (<50 species) and faunal
(<25 species) diversity. Societal activities in the upper
reaches (of rivers) towards the transition zones and plain
lands were higher compared to the WG. Absence (mini-
mally present) of intact mature forests in the socially
active regions has led to decline in river flow (seasonal or
intermittent flow). The rivers in these regions (upper
reaches) have been polluted with domestic sewage, agri-
cultural run-off and industrial effluents. The temperatures
in altered catchments with degraded landscapes are high-
er across all agroclimatic zones.
Information related to biodiversity and ecology of the
region was compiled through literature review and field
measurements. Ecologically sensitive regions (ESRs)
were delineated based on the geoclimatic, land, ecologi-
cal and hydrological parameters (Figure 7)98. Comparing
ESR with the eco-hydrological status (Figure 6) confirms
the ecological sensitivity linkages with the hydrological
regime of a region. This is evident form the presence of
perennial streams (in ESR 1 and 2), when the catchment
dominated by the native plant species cover (>60%) with
abundance of endemic species. This highlights the linkag-
es of hydrology, biodiversity and ecology with land-use
dynamics in a riverscape.
People’s livelihood and eco-hydrological status
of a catchment
A comparative assessment of people’s livelihood has
been made with soil water properties and availability of
water in the respective catchment. The result shows that,
catchments with >60% vegetation with native species
have higher soil moisture and groundwater compared to
the catchments (of seasonal streams) during dry spell of a
year. The higher soil moisture due to availability of water
during all seasons facilitates farming of commercial crops
with higher economic returns to farmers, unlike those
farmers who face water crisis during the lean season. The
study emphasizes the need for conservation by maintain-
ing native vegetation in the catchments, highlighting its
potential to support people’s livelihood with water con-
servation at local and regional levels. Both plantation and
agricultural crops have been considered for valuation in
select catchments of perennial and seasonal streams.
Plantation crops (viz. areca nut, coconut, banana, beetle
leaf and pepper) are the major income-generating pro-
ducts in the catchment areas of perennial streams. In this
sector a gross average income of Rs 311,701 ha–1 yr–1
(during 2009–10) was generated from plantation crops as
against an average expenditure of Rs 37,043 ha–1 yr–1
(mainly for plantation maintenance), yielding a net profit
of Rs 274,658 ha–1 yr–1. On the contrary, in the catchment
of seasonal streams (where both plantation and rice fields
were considered for income calculation), the average
gross income generated was Rs 150,679 ha–1 yr–1 against
expenditure for plantation maintenance and field prepara-
tion of Rs 6474 ha–1 yr–1.
Faunal diversity and total economic value
The presence of contiguous or intact forests with native
species maintains the natural flow conditions and water
Figure 7. Ecologically sensitive regions in Uttara Kannada district, Kar-
nataka, India.
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020
Table 1. Estuarine faunal diversity and total economic value (TEV)65,71,84,100
River basin Dams Fishes (sp. count) Gastropods/bivalves (sp. count) TEV (Rs in million/ha/yr)
Kali Six reservoirs 61 7 2.5
Gangavali Presence of small check dams 55 6 2.6
Aghanashini Presence of small check dams 86 7 5.0
Sharavati Three reservoirs 43 2 1.3
quality. Alteration in the natural flow regime through
construction of reservoirs for impounding water and re-
leasing according to societal needs has led to an imbal-
ance in the ecosystem, loss of habitat, alteration of water
quality, etc. Altogether 61 fish species from 47 genera
and 38 families were recorded from the Kali estuary.
Gangavali had 55 species of fish from 46 genera and 39
families. Aghanashini had the highest diversity of fishes;
86 species belonging to 66 genera and 47 families, while
Sharavati had the lowest with 43 species from 25 genera
and 24 families60,99. High diversity in Aghanashini estu-
ary is obviously due to preservation of relatively better
natural condition of the river, unaffected by dams or other
major developmental projects. However, shell and sand
mining which have intensified in recent decades, have a
telling effect on estuarine fish population and livelihood
based on them60.
The estuaries of the four rivers under discussion
spreading across 7,549 ha area support significantly the
employment sector in the district, accounting for about
2,092,000 fishing days/yr, benefiting an estimated 3086
families of estuarine fishermen, generating 277 days of
fishing work per year and generating an income of Rs
88,157/ha/yr. This is significant, considering that income is
only due to fishing efforts without any external input . This
is because mechanized fishing is not practised in the est-
uaries of the district. The estuarine area required for fish-
ing is 0.56 ha per head in Gangavali and Aghanashini
(both are without dams), 1.58 ha in Kali and a whopping
4.72 ha in Sharavati (impacted by a series of hydroelec-
tric projects).
Table 1 lists estuarine faunal diversity with the total
economic value, which highlights the importance of
maintaining natural flows to sustain estuarine biodiversi-
ty and ecosystem goods and services. Natural flows are
regulated in the Kali and Sharavati rivers with reservoirs
built across them for producing electricity at Supa, Koda-
salli, Kadra (Kali) and Linganmakki (Sharavati). Con-
trolled flows alter the salinity and nutrient levels in the
estuaries, which results in the lowering of goods and
services as evident from the total economic value (TEV)
per hectare. TEV is 1.2 million rupees (Sharavati) and
2.5 million rupees (Kali) compared to 5 million rupees
per hectare per year in Aghanashini or 2.6 million rupees
per hectare per year in the Gangavali. Gangavali and
Aghanashini rivers are devoid of reservoirs and the flow
in these rivers is natural. This ecology also has led to
higher diversity of bivalves, which consist of about 13
species in Gangavali and 86 species in Aghanashini65.
The study reiterates the need for maintaining the natural
flow regime and prudent management of watershed to (i)
sustain higher faunal diversity, (ii) maintain the health of
the water body and (iii) sustain people’s livelihood with
higher revenues. The study negates the current decision-
makers’ approach with the assumption ‘freshwater flow-
ing into the sea is a waste of a precious natural resource’,
and highlights the importance of maintaining forests with
native vegetation in the catchment areas to sustain water
quality and quantity of the rivers during all seasons. The
unregulated flow in rivers can maintain the health and
biodiversity in the downstream regions, including coastal
waters, wetlands (mangroves, seagrass beds, floodplains),
and estuaries.
Watershed of a river plays a vital role in sustaining the
hydrological regime. Analysis of landscape dynamics
across the west-flowing major rivers of Uttara Kannada
district (Central WG), reveals degradation of forests from
74.19% (1973) to 48.04% (2018) with loss of evergreen
forests from 56.07% to 24.85% due to large-scale deve-
lopmental activities such as construction of dams, power
projects, forest based industries – paper mills, expansion
of roads, urbanization, encroachment for horticultural and
agricultural practices. The forests are currently confined
to the WG and protected areas.
Alterations of landscape structure in the catchment
areas influence the hydrological regime leading to varia-
tions in the hydrological status. Assessment of sub-basin-
wise eco-hydrological footprint across river basins with
varied levels of anthropogenic stress emphasizes the role
of forests on infiltration and evapotranspiration capabili-
ties. Sub-basins with forest cover with higher proportion
of native species have higher eco-hydrological index,
suggesting that the availability of water can satisfactorily
maintain biotic demands, whereas sub-basins dominated
by monoculture have low index which indicates water
scarcity. Inter-annual variability of water availability and
demand footprints indicate that the sub-basins between
coasts and the WG have perennial river streams, whereas
transition zones between the WG and plains towards the
east show deficit of water for 6–10 months in a year with
intermittent and seasonal flow. Occurrence of streams
with 12 months flow in ESRs (1 and 2) confirms the
linkages of hydrological regime with ecological sensitivity
of a region. This highlights that streams are perennial in
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 118, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2020 1391
the catchments with native forest cover >65% having
higher proportion of endemic plant species. The signific-
ance of land cover with native undisturbed forests (inte-
rior forests) in maintaining flow regime in the rivers,
micro-climate and biodiversity is evident with the com-
parative analysis of temperature, biodiversity, water qua-
lity, forests and hydro-ecological flows. The catchments
with perennial rivers support rich biodiversity with higher
number of species of both flora and fauna.
Assessment of spatial patterns of biodiversity across
the four river basins reveals the occurrence of endemic
flora and fauna in the catchments with perennial streams.
Similarly, aquatic diversity across these four river estu-
aries indicates that due to the natural flow regime, Agha-
nashini has the highest diversity followed by Gangavali,
Kali and Sharavati, which have altered salinity conditions
due to river flow that is regulated by reservoirs.
Anthropogenic activities (industries, horticulture, etc.)
in the upper reaches of rivers have a negative impact on
the pristine nature of water, i.e. high pollution levels have
been observed in the catchments with towns/cities with
high population (Hubli, Dharwad, Sirsi, Sagar) and indus-
tries (Dandeli). Forests help in remediation and mainten-
ance of water quality in the downstream regions. They
also help in moderating micro-climate as evident from the
lower surface temperatures in forested catchments com-
pared to the degraded landscapes. Regulation of water
flow in the river impacts people’s livelihood downstream,
as evident from the lowered values of ecosystem goods
and services as in Kali and Sharavati estuaries (TEV
<2.5 million rupees/yr/ha) compared to river basins with
natural flow as in Aghanashini estuary (with the higher
fish diversity and TEV of >5 million rupees/yr/ha).
The study provides insights on the role of native vege-
tation in (i) sustaining water availability during all sea-
sons to meet biotic demands, (ii) supporting rich endemic
biodiversity, (iii) maintaining water quality through bio-
remediation, (iv) promoting higher ecosystem goods and
services, and (v) supporting livelihood of people depen-
dent on indigenous resources. Understanding these
linkages would help the planners/decision-makers with
valuable knowledge for integrated river-basin manage-
ment in an era dominated by indiscriminate development
of river catchment areas involving enhanced deforesta-
tion, frequent instances of altering natural regime, inap-
propriate cropping and poor water efficiency.
The study highlights the vital ecological function of a
riverscape in sustaining the hydrological regime when
covered with vegetation of native species. The presence
of perennial streams in sub-catchment dominated by
native vegetation contrasts the seasonal streams in the
catchment dominated by anthropogenic activities with
monoculture plantations. Hence, the premium should be
towards conservation of forests with native species in
order to sustain water and biotic diversity in the water
bodies, which are vital for food security. There exists a
chance to restore the lost natural evergreen to semi-
evergreen forests through appropriate conservation and
management practices. Eco-hydrological assessment
across riverscapes of varied levels of anthropogenic stress
highlights the water retention capability of a riverscape
dominated by vegetation of native species to sustain the
local societal and ecological demands, which is useful in
the integrated management of riverscapes (watershed,
catchment or basin) in India by the respective govern-
ment agencies.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. We thank UNSD and the Ministry of Sta-
tistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GoI);
NRDMS Division, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of
Science and Technology, GoI; Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru,
and ENVIS Division, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate
Change, GoI, for financial support. We thank also Vishnu Mukri and
Srikanth Naik for assistance during field data collection.
Received 13 August 2019; revised accepted 30 December 2019
doi: 10.18520/cs/v118/i9/1379-1393
... After precipitation, a portion of the rainfall that flows in the streams is (i) surface run-off or direct run-off and (ii) subsurface run-off. Surface run-off refers to the portion of water that directly enters into the streams during rainfall, which is estimated based on the empirical relationships [9][10][11]21,22] considering run-off coefficient, depending on land uses [56]. ...
... Terrestrial water demand is the water requirements of vegetation, i.e., AET from natural vegetation (forests), and is about 937 million cubic meter. The minimum watersustaining biota during lean seasons in the aquatic ecosystem is about 483 million cubic meter, quantified based on field investigations, which constitutes about 30% of the total flow and is comparable to similar studies in the neighboring Sharavathi, Kali, and Gangavali river basins [21,26,41,60]. ...
... Terrestrial water demand is the water requirements of vegetation, i.e., AET from natural vegetation (forests), and is about 937 million cubic meter. The minimum water-sustaining biota during lean seasons in the aquatic ecosystem is about 483 million cubic meter, quantified based on field investigations, which constitutes about 30% of the total flow and is comparable to similar studies in the neighboring Sharavathi, Kali, and Gangavali river basins [21,26,41,60]. ...
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Rivers are vital freshwater resources that cater to the needs of society. The burgeoning population and the consequent land-use changes have altered the hydrologic regime with biophysical and chemical integrity changes. This necessitates understanding the land-use dynamics, flow dynamics, hydrologic regime, and water quality of riverine ecosystems. An assessment of the land-use dynamics in the Aghanashini River basin reveals a decline in vegetation cover from 86.06% (1973) to 50.78% (2018). The computation of eco-hydrological indices (EHI) highlights that the sub-watersheds with native vegetation had higher infiltration (and storage) than water loss due to evapotranspiration and meeting the societal demand. The computation of water quality index helped to assess the overall water quality across seasons. The study provides insights into hydrology linkages with the catchment landscape dynamics to the hydrologists and land-use managers. These insights would aid in the prudent management of river basins to address water stress issues through watershed treatment involving afforestation with native species, appropriate cropping, and soil conservation measures.
... Alteration in bio-geochemical cycles has impaired the exchange of moisture, heat, and albedo at the local and global scales, intensely impacting climate feedback of the land surface. Degradation of forest landscapes results in lowered evapotranspiration, affecting the hydrologic regime and releasing the carbon stored in the soil and vegetation due to changes in the physical and chemical integrity of the ecosystem, thus contributing to higher levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) (Ramachandra et al. 2020;. Unplanned developmental activities leading to LULC changes have affected the carrying capacity, which is evident from barren hilltops, conversion of perennial streams to intermittent or seasonal streams, and lower crop productivity. ...
... The increase in paved surfaces due to uncontrolled urbanization in Karnataka state can result in an urban heat island effect due to the conversion of latent heat flux into sensible heat flux, thereby threatening human well-being (Ramachandra and Uttam 2009). Other consequences of unregulated paved surfaces in a landscape are: (a) increase in the energy consumption for cooling with enhanced land surface temperature (Ramachandra et al. 2017b), (ii) escalation in the carbon footprint (Ramachandra and Shwetmala 2009), (iii) reduction in water availability (Ramachandra et al. 2020), (iv) alteration in the seasonal rainfall pattern (Buyantuyev and Wu 2012), (v) increase in flood instances (Kumar et al. 2021), (vi) effect on air quality (Feizizadeh and Blaschke 2013; Fuladlu and Altan 2021), (vii) phenological changes (Allen et al. 2015), (ix) impact on biodiversity (Ramachandra et al. 2018), (x) reduction in the net primary productivity of vegetation (Jackson and Baker 2010;Bharath et al. 2013;Alavipanah et al. 2015), and finally (xi) vegetation die-off (Breshears et al. 2005;Zhou et al. 2016). In this regard, the Karnataka state authorities should focus on sustainable developmental planning with judicious resource usage and existing vegetation cover improvement. ...
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The availability of multi-resolution spatial data and advances in modeling techniques have given an impetus to land use land cover (LULC) change analyses. Geo-visualization of possible land uses (LU) with policy decisions is vital for formulating appropriate sustainable resource management policies. For the prudent management of natural resources, LU planning has to take environmental dimensions into account. LU dynamics helps to understand the macro background of regional population growth, economic development, social progress, and changes in the natural environment. In this study, LU transitions from 1985 to 2019 were assessed through a supervised classifier based on the Gaussian maximum likelihood estimation algorithm. Geo-visualization of landscape dynamics was implemented through a fuzzy analytical hierarchy process (AHP) with Markov cellular automata (MCA) for Karnataka state, India. It considered five policy scenarios, namely, (i) business as usual (BAU), (ii) agent-based land use transition (ALT), (iii) reserve forest protection (RFP), (iv) afforestation (AF), and (v) sustainable development plan (SDP). Prior knowledge of likely LU aids in assessing the implications of chosen policies forms a base for sustainable resource management with conservation of biological diversity. LU analyses revealed that forests in Karnataka state constituted 21% in 1985, witnessed large-scale transitions, and reduced to 15% of the geographical area in 2019. BAU depicts a likely increase in the built-up area to 11.5% from 3% (2019). The SDP scenario (with stringent policy implementation) indicates that the forest cover would remain at 11% (compared to 15% in 2019), which is the least possible loss among all considered scenarios (BAU, ALT, RFP, AF, and SDP). Modeling and visualization of landscape dynamics aids in regional LU planning as a spatial decision support system (SDSS) towards achieving sustainable development goals.
... Few studies have been conducted with the WEFt, such as the study on assessing and quantifying the amount of water consumed in a terrestrial water resource area (Su et al., 2018). Studies evaluating required for watershed utilization (Cai and Zhang, 2018;Ramachandra et al., 2020) and other studies proposed new EF models for land-to-water allocation in ecological domestic water requirements . ...
Although many African countries have made significant progress towards universal access to water, energy, and food resources (WEF), assessing the ecological response to the increasing productivity of these resources is not well researched, which carries the risk of ecological deficit, resource degradation, and inefficient policy responses to resource management. This study seeks to assess the ecological sustainability response to the high increase demand for WEF resources in well-developed African countries. The study developed new measurement metrics for the WEF production system, including three indicators of ecological footprint (EF), ecological biocapacity (EBC), and eco-balance. The overall analysis considers data from four distinct types of water and energy use activities, and eight distinct types of food consumption, in nine African countries with the highest WEF nexus performance. An evaluation tool for the Water, Energy, Food and Ecological Balance (WEFEB) nexus index is proposed as one of the study's outcomes. Despite having 100% access to WEF resources related to the SDG targets. The results reveal the significant levels of imbalance and large ecological deficits existing in many of the concerned countries, especially North Africa, Mauritius, and South Africa, which need to rethink their economic models. Projecting a sustained increase in resource demand so that each country achieves at least 1700 m³/capita/year as the minimum amount of water needed, most countries would suffer from a steady increase in ecological imbalance. According to the results, managing the ecological imbalances with increasing demand for WEF resources in well-developed African countries may require well-designed policies to effectively reduce certain types of human demand that have a large ecological footprint.
... Wetlands nearer to the main river with active connectivity have better habitat ecology than the distant wetlands (Nyarko, 2020). Wetlands with active river connection experiences seasonal indentation, sedimentation, and nutrition recharge which helps to rejuvenate their habitat ecology (Gumiero et al., 2013;Ramachandra et al., 2020). For this, a river distance map has been generated in the ArcGIS environment for this work (Fig. 2). ...
The main goal of the present study is to develop hydrological security model (HSM) and landscape insecurity model (LIM) of the wetlands in moribund deltaic floodplain using a tree-based hybrid ensemble method. The study employs four tree-based novel hybrid approaches such as Random Forest (RF), Extremely randomized forest (ETC), gradient boosting (GBM), and eXtreme gradient boosting (XGB) for modelling hydrological security and landscape insecurity. Six hydrological parameters such as water presence frequency (WPF), water depth, Hydro-duration, variability of water depth using standard deviation, distance from rivers, and regression slope of wetland depth have been employed for hydrological security modelling, and nine landscape parameters such as aggregation index, patch cohesion index, edge density, mean radius of gyration arithmetic, largest patch Index, mean perimeter-area ratio, percentage of landscape, splitting index, total edge have been employed for landscape insecurity modelling. The performance of each model is evaluated by estimating precision, recall, F1-score, Matthew's correlation coefficient (MCC), and the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC). The outcomes revealed that GBM and XGB pose the highest accuracy level (AUC more than 0.95 for HSM and 0.85 for LIM), followed by RF, ETC models. Models' outcome shows that about 50% of wetland area belongs to the low hydrological secure zone. From phase I to phase III this area increased by more than 18%. The area under high hydrological secure zones reduces by about 55%. Landscape insecurity in this region raised by 41% from phase I to phase III. Linking HSM and LIM shows that reduction of hydrological security is responsible for enhancing landscape insecurity in this region.
... In addition to climate change, the unprecedented increase in the population footprint has influenced the water systems in large basins worldwide (Ramachandra et al., 2020;Li et al., 2021a). In the recent decades, economic prosperity and population growth have accelerated urbanization and industrialization processes in the YRB (Li et al., 2021a), such that agricultural land, grassland, and unused land in the YRB decreased by 5.9%, 1.0%, and 17.4%, respectively, from 1980 to 2015, while residential land strongly increased from nearly 2.0 × 10 4 km 2 to 4.8 × 10 4 km 2 . ...
Global losses caused by floods are gradually increasing under the influence of climate change and human activities. The Yangtze River (YR) economic belt has continued to experience frequent flood disasters over the years; therefore, clarifying the significant flood risk factors is highly relevant for the development of the region. In this study, we investigated the flood risk factors in the Yangtze River Basin (YRB) during 2002–2018 based on meteorological data, reconstructed terrestrial water storage (TWS) data from Gravity Recovery Climate Experiment (GRACE) (GRACE-TWS), and Landsat data. The major conclusions were as follows: (1) the principal components (i.e., the first, third, and fourth principal components (PC1, PC3, and PC4)) of Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) at a 12-month scale (SPEI12) were more significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with teleconnection indices (i.e., Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Indices (SOI), and Multivariate El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Index (MEI)), than the SPEI at 6-month scale (SPEI6) in the YRB during 2002–2018; (2) the changes in water bodies reflected by Landsat data (i.e., Landsat 5, Landsat 7, and Landsat 8 OLI) for the YRB confirmed the wet periods (i.e., 2002–2005, 2010, 2012–2013, and 2015–2018) monitored by SPEI (i.e., SPEI6 and SPEI12); and (3) while the Pearson correlation coefficients indicated a significant linear relationship between the major hydrological factors (e.g., precipitation, runoff, GRACE-TWS, flood potential index (FPI), and soil moisture (SM)) in the YRB, the precipitation detected by the GRACE-TWS and SM with one-month lag phase, had the maximum correlation coefficients of 0.83 and 0.85, respectively. Significant relationships (r² = 0.48 and r² = 0.92, P < 0.05) were found between variable infiltration capacity (VIC)-runoff and predicted runoffs based on these factors (i.e., precipitation, GRACE-TWS, flood potential index (FPI), and SM) and the random forest regression. This study provides significant hydrological information and contributes to approaches aimed at supporting climate resilience and investments in the YRB.
... cities, towns, farmland for food production, dams and reservoir impoundments for water and energy supply, and waterways for trade, intake and sewers (Best 2019). Unprecedented growth of the human footprint in the world's large river basins has been changing all aspects of river basin ecosystems: landscape diversity, geo-morphology of river channels, hydrology, biogeochemistry and biodiversity (Ramachandra et al. 2018(Ramachandra et al. , 2020. In addition, accelerating global warming and the increasing occurrence of extreme climate events drastically manipulate or even degrade the ecosystem services of the world's large rivers (Denman et al. 2007), decreasing the value of these ecosystem services and their functioning in large river basins. ...
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The Yangtze River, the largest river in China, has been facing major challenges in massive flooding and eco-environmental health over the past decades. Sustainable socioeconomic development in the Yangtze River Basin depends on water and ecosystem security. This overview addresses eco-water security under the changing environment of the Yangtze River Basin. Looking forward to a healthy Yangtze River in the future, there are still uncertainties regarding how to assess and wisely manage the Yangtze River through a systematic, integrated approach applied to multiple dimensions, water, biodiversity, ecological services, and resilience, for the sustainable development of ecosystems and human beings. The Yangtze Simulator, an integrated river basin model powered by artificial intelligence and interdisciplinary science, is introduced and discussed, and it will serve as a robust tool for good governance of the Yangtze River Basin.
... The soil and water of this region sustain the livelihoods of millions of people. These fragile ecosystems are under threat due to the implementation of unplanned short-sighted developmental projects, which are escalating anthropogenic activities (Ramachandra et al. 2020). Globalization and consequent relaxation in Indian markets have given impetus to the implementation of numerous industries and linear infrastructure projects. ...
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Land-use transformations altering the ecosystem function have impacted the sustenance of natural resources. Implementation of unplanned developmental activities in the ecologically fragile regions has contributed to frequent landslides, conversion of perennial rivers to intermittent or seasonal rivers, reduced water retention capability, etc. Addressing these challenges entails understanding the drivers of land-use change and also their role in altering land uses. Large-scale linear projects such as roads and railways, though contribute to better infrastructure and enhance employment opportunities but severely change the landscape structure affecting peoples' livelihood due to the reduction of ecosystem goods and services. Planned interventions are essential for adopting appropriate land-use trends and shift the trajectory of ecosystem service provision through prior visualization of land-use dynamics with likely impacts. The current study analyses the possible land-use changes in the ecologically fragile central Western Ghats with the proposed railway networks, namely (i) Mysore-Kushalnagar and (ii) Mysore-Thalassery (limited to Karnataka state), using an agent-based model (Fuzzy-AHP-CA-Markov) considering the linear project regions with a buffer of 5 km. The analyses reveal a reduction of forests by 2 and 5%, respectively, during 2010 and 2019. This trend would continue with a significant forest decline by 2026. Areas under built-up have increased over 5% during 2010-2019, which would increase by 7% (2019 and 2026) at the expense of cultivation lands. Major cities such as Mysore and Kushalnagara would witness concentrated urban growth with sprawl in the peripheries, while other towns have undergone leapfrog developments. The spatial distribution of fauna and flora indicates that most parts of the buffer region endow endemic species and serve as foraging grounds. Prediction of likely land uses in 2026 suggests that these regions would undergo large-scale alterations threatening fauna and flora. Implementing linear projects in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats would further destabilize the region, posing a threat with the increased hazard frequencies and the sustenance of natural resources.
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Water sustenance in streams and rivers depends on the integrity of the catchment (watershed), as vegetation helps in retarding the velocity of water by allowing impoundment and recharging of groundwater through infiltration. Forests with native vegetation act as a sponge by retaining and regulating water transfer between land and the atmosphere. Hence, it necessitates safeguarding and maintaining native forest patches and restoring existing degraded lands to sustain the hydrological regime, which caters to biotic (ecological and societal) demands.
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The comprehensive knowledge of the ecological fragility of a region is quintessential for evolving strategies for the conservation of the area. This entails identifying factors responsible for ecological sensitiveness, including landscape dynamics, future transitions to mitigate the problems of haphazard and uncontrolled development approaches. The escalating anthropogenic pressures leading to over-exploitation of natural resources and unabated greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to global warming leading to changes in the climate and depletion of natural resources. The forest dynamics for the Mysore district were assessed using temporal remote sensing data and the field data and predicted future scenarios of transformation, which helps in evolving appropriate management strategies. Ecological sensitive regions at decentralized levels (grids of 5' × 5' or 9 km× 9 km) have been identified in Mysore district, Karnataka State, India, through a composite metric based on bio, geo, hydro, climatic, and ecological factors with the social aspects. This information was compiled from the field through a natural environment survey at representative grids and an extensive literature review at the district level. Forest dynamics were assessed using a supervised classifier based on the Gaussian maximum likelihood classifier using temporal remote sensing (1989 to 2019) Landsat data. The study showed an increase in agricultural lands in Mysore from 64.4% (1989) to 68.6% (2019). The forest range of the Mysore was dominated by the dry deciduous and moist deciduous forest in the Bandipuara and Nagar holé reserved forest. Anthropogenic activities such as urbanization, eco-tourism, etc., have resulted in the decline of forest cover from 19.39% (1989) to 13.08% in 2019. The fragmentation analysis showed a decline of contiguous interior forest from 50.66% to 42.41% (1989 to 2019) in Mysore. Likely land-use scenario reveals an increase in built-up from 3.03 to 4.31% (2029) for the loss of forest area from 15.51% (2019) to 15.42% (2029). Computation of spatial matrices proves the higher urbanization and loss of forest cover in the outskirts of city centers. Integrating geo-climatic, social, hydrological, and ecological parameters for each grid helped delineate ESR based on the aggregate values. Fourteen grids (17.07%) in Mysore fall in ESR 1, indicating the highest sensitivity. 21.95% in ESR2 (higher sensitivity), 58.5% constitute ESR 3 (high sensitivity) and the rest is 2.43% in ESR 4 (moderate sensitivity). The region-specific sustainable development path with cluster approaches would enhance job opportunities and optimize local resource use at each panchayat (grid) level with negligible effects on ecosystem health.
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Landscapes are the composition of dynamic heterogeneous components of complex ecological, economic, and cultural elements on which human and other life forms depend directly. Landscape dynamics driven by land use land cover (LULC) changes due to anthropogenic activities are affecting ecology, biodiversity, hydrological regime, and hence people’s livelihood. There has been increasing apprehensions about environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources due to uncontrolled anthropogenic activities, and its consequences on the long-term sustainability of socio-economic systems around the world. This necessitates an understanding of landscape dynamics and the visualization of likely changes for evolving appropriate strategies for prudent management of natural resources. Modeling of forest cover changes offers to incorporate human decision making on land use in a systematic and spatially explicit way through an accumulation of land use choices, social interaction, and adaptation at various levels. Several models developed by the research community so far has largely been utilized to evaluate the empirical studies, explore theoretical aspects of particular systems rather than forecasting their effectiveness across the various landscapes representing bio-physical dissimilarities. In this regard, the objectives of the current research are to understand and model the spatiotemporal patterns of landscape dynamics in the Uttara Kannada district of Central Western Ghats. This involves, (i) developing an appropriate modeling framework incorporating the spatiotemporal changes in the forested landscape at the regional level; (ii) implementing a hybrid model to capture the changes at the landscape level by integrating bio-ecological aspects with socio-economic growth; (iii) evaluating the environmental conditions in response to scenarios of drivers of change like developmental policies and their potential impacts; (iv) assessing the likely scenario of the landscape dynamics based on policies of conservation of ecologically sensitive regions (ESR) and other recommendations. The vegetation dynamics quantified using spatial data acquired through spaceborne sensors at regular intervals along with collateral data shows a decline in vegetation cover from 92.87% (1973) to 80.42% (2016). Land use analyses through supervised classifiers based on the Gaussian maximum likelihood algorithm reveals a deforestation trend as evident from the decline of evergreen-semi evergreen forest cover to 29.5% (2016) from 67.73% (1973). In addition, agricultural spatial extent (7.00 to 14.3 %) and the area under human habitations (0.38% to 4.97%) have also shown a steep increase. This has also led to forest fragmentation (interior forest cover lost by 64.42 to 22.25 %) in the district. In order to visualize the likely changes, the current work proposes a modified Hybrid Fuzzy-Analytical Hierarchical Process-Markov Cellular Automata model by accounting for the land use changes and to evaluate the role of policy decisions. The proposed hybrid modeling approach with the constraints in the cellular automata technique has been used to simulate various scenarios (i) managed growth rate (2022), (ii) IPCC climate change rapid growth (2031, 2046), (iii) policy-induced constrained Ecological Sensitive Regions. The rapid growth rate scenario highlights a likely loss of forest cover by 11.1%, with an increase in plantations covering 20.9% and built-up as 10.2% of the region by 2046. Land use changes assessed through considering constraints of Ecological Sensitive Regions (ESR-1) and the protection of intact or contiguous (interior) forest patches, highlights the role of policy decisions in land use changes. ESR-1 protection scenario shows forest cover is likely to remain at 48% (2021) and 45% (2031) though there is an increase in built-up area from 5.8 to 7% (2031) and agriculture area. The comparison of policy scenario-1 (ESR-1) and scenario-2 (protection of interior forest) depicts scenario-1 focuses more on conservation and limits the growth to the ESR- 2, 3 and 4 regions, whereas scenario-2 shows growth can occur throughout the district excluding regions covered with interior forests, which is likely to induce further fragmentation of forests. This research shows that the insights from the changes to the forest cover and its dynamics through modeling will aid decision making processes for formulating appropriate land use policies. It is important that such policies mitigate changes in the ecologically sensitive regions and maintain sustenance of natural resources to ensure water and food security while supporting the livelihood of local people. The book consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the landscape, ecosystem process, and issues and concerns associated with land use land cover changes. This chapter elaborates on the necessity of modeling landscape dynamics and provides a detailed review of the different geospatial modeling techniques (spatial, non-spatial, statistical, geospatial, agent-based modeling techniques, etc.) and their effective usage in planning and natural resource management. The review also looks at various studies on forest land use changes and modeling techniques used for the Indian and global context. Chapter 2 provides an overview of current modeling techniques and the development of a suitable hybrid model and its mathematical formulation. Chapter 3 provides a brief overview of the study area considered i.e. Uttara Kannada district, Central Western Ghats for implementation of models. The chapter provides details of geology, climate, rainfall, demography, the economic, historic significance of the region. It also articulates the various data sets used for the analysis and their significance. Chapter 4 presents land use land cover dynamics in the Uttara Kannada district and fragmentation of forests based on remote sensing analysis. Chapter 5 proposes the framework for identification of Ecologically Sensitive Regions (ESR) for conservation by integrating spatial, bio-geo climatic, and social variables. This chapter also provides the allowable developmental activities for the sustainable growth of the region. Chapter 6 presents modeling and simulation of the region and project likely changes in the ecologically significant landscape. This chapter also presents the results of the proposed hybrid Fuzzy-AHP-MCCA technique and simulates likely changes, and also evaluates the likely scenario of the landscape dynamics with the conservation of ESR and policy recommendations. The model helps understand how the identification of ESR, and its integration in the model to set the limits for the growth under (i) implementation of conservation in ESR-1 and allowing development in ESR 2-4; (ii) limiting LU conversion by considering interior forest and protected areas as constraints; will affect the changes in the land use patterns. Finally, the research is concluded with the significant results from this modeling effort, which helps policy and decision makers. Finally, the book concludes with the significant results from the modeling efforts and inferences that can be drawn on how the model helps policy and decision makers understand the impact of the choices made at a macro-scale and their impact at the local levels.
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Eco-Hydrological footprint of a river basin refers to the hydrologic regime for sustaining vital ecological functions considering the appropriation of water by biotic components (including humans). It provides crucial information about the ecological status of a river, while addressing the divergence from natural conditions of the actual hydrological regime. Thus, this highlights the implicit relationship of hydrologic regime in meeting the demand of the biota. Unplanned developmental activities have altered the catchment integrity which has threatened the regional water security due to the conversion of perennial streams to seasonal ones. This has necessitated prudent catchment management strategies to maintain the ecological water requirements so as to maintain the aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and to sustain water resources. The skewed strategies oriented mainly towards societal benefits have led to large-scale degradation of the landscape. Large-scale alterations of the landscape structure have led to erosion in the ecosystem supportive capacity that plays a major role in sustaining the hydrological regime. Insights of eco-hydrological footprint in the catchment would aid in formulating policies to sustain the hydrologic regime and natural resources. The current study focuses on the assessment of the eco-hydrological footprint in the Kali River of central Western Ghats, Karnataka. Land use dynamics assessment using the temporal remote sensing data of four decades reveal decline of evergreen forest cover from 61.8 percent to 37.5 percent in the Kali river basin between 1973-2016. Computation of eco-hydrological indices shows that the sub-catchments in the Ghats with higher proportion of forest cover with native species has a better eco-hydrological index as against the plain. This highlights the vital ecological function of a catchment in sustaining the hydrologic regime when covered with the vegetation of native species. The presence of perennial streams in sub-catchment dominated by native vegetation compared to the seasonal streams in the catchment dominated by anthropogenic activities with monoculture plantations. Eco-Hydrological Status/Hydrological footprint reflected similar results as that of the eco hydrological index demonstrating the role of forests in maintaining the hydrological regime. Inter annual water budgeting across sub basins showed that the Ghats and Coastal areas are sustainable with perennial waters in the river as against the plains in the east which showed deficit of resource indicating water stress.
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Landscape dynamics driven by land use land cover (LULC) changes due to anthropogenic activities altering the functional ability of an ecosystem has influenced the ecology, biodiversity, hydrology and people’s sustainable livelihood. Forest landscape dynamics have been quantified using spatial data acquired through space borne sensors along with collateral data. Vegetation cover assessment of Central Western Ghats shows the decline of vegetation from 92.87% (1973) to 80.42% (2016). Land use analyses reveal the trend of deforestation, evident from the reduction of evergreen-semi evergreen forest cover from 67.73% (1973) to 29.5% (2016). The spatial patterns of diverse landscape have been assessed through spatial metrics and categorical principal component analysis, reveal a transition of intact forested landscape (1973) to fragmented landscape. The analysis has provided insights to formulate appropriate policies to mitigate forest changes in the region to safeguard water and food security apart from livelihood of the local people for sustainable development.
Conference Paper
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Sacred Grove (Relic forests /Devara Kadu) refers to the forests that are protected and preserved through generations by the village communities by understanding the importance of biological and hydrological services provided. Anthropogenic alterations in these forests are comparatively less due to the socio-cultural beliefs, at the same time many groves are either lost or shrunk endangering biodiversity and effecting the hydrological regime. Several studies show that, relic forests and water resources are associated to each other implying the presence of perennial streams, swamps, springs, lakes, ponds, wetlands surrounding the groves that aids in sustaining the hydrological regime (environmental flows) across seasons. Water being perennial in the groves has led to i) favorable microclimates and habitats supporting numerous fauna and flora, ii) catering societal demands in the vicinity. There is a very little knowledge on hydrological regime and water yield in these watersheds comprising sacred groves compared to other landscapes. This communication attempts to understand the hydrological behavior of selected ecologically sensitive watershed in Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts of Karnataka. Monthly field measurements were carried out between July 2014 to April 2016 to account the variability of water yield using i) area velocity method for discharge measurements across streams, ii) measuring ground water depth in open wells. Remote sensing and GIS were used to understand the land use, topography in these catchments. Comparative assessment of catchments with sacred groves and non-sacred groves showed that, water bodies associated with the sacred grove were perennial with 5 folds’ higher water yield during pre-monsoons (summer) than the non-sacred groves. Water yield in the non-sacred groves were relatively high during the monsoons indicating lower infiltration. The hydrological study also revealed that, presence of natural forests in the catchments such as Kodkani (Kathlekan non sacred grove), Nanalli (Yaana non sacred grove) even though excluded from sacred grove are also equally competent as sacred groves in maintaining the hydrological regime. Cluster analysis of catchments (streams) reveled that SG’s and NSG’s form separate clusters indicating that the SG and NSG behave differently. The outcome of the field investigations emphasises the critical role of natural/relic forests in sustaining the hydrological regime.
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Valuation of ecosystem goods and services is essential to formulate sustainable development policies oriented towards the protection or restoration of ecosystems. The present study estimates the value of forest ecosystem of Uttara Kannada district by market price method. The total value of provisioning goods and services from the forests of Uttara Kannada district was estimated at Rs. 15,171 crores per year, which amounts to about Rs. 2 lakh per hectare per year. The study highlights the undervaluation of forest goods and services that is evident when the estimated total economic value of forest and the value of forest resources calculated in national income accounting framework are compared. The quantification of all benefits associated with the forest ecosystem goods and services would help in arriving at an appropriate policy and managerial decisions to ensure conservation while opting sustainable development path.
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Landscape is a mosaic of heterogeneous elements and the structure of a landscape decides the functional ability – hydrologic, bio-geo-chemical cycling, etc. The current study focusses on the landcover dynamics linkages with the hydrologic regime in Chandiholé sub-catchments of Aghnashini River. Various sub catchments are Yaana, Beilangi, Aanegundi(Chandiholé) and Masihalla. Land use in each sub-catchment was analysed using spatial data acquired through space borne Indian Remote Sensing sensors (IRS LISS4 FMX), through supervised classifier based on Gaussian Maximum likelihood algorithm. Land use analysis indicated that Yaana was dominated by evergreen forests (over 95%), where as other sub-catchments had mixed landscapes. Hydrological yield is assessed based on monitoring stream discharges during May 2014 and April 2016 through area velocity method. Yaana stream is perennial (with 12 months of discharge) and yield varying between 1.3 to 97.4 mm/day followed by Aanegundi a mixed catchment fed by Yaana stream was intermittent (flow variability 10 – 12 month) across seasons has water yield of 0.07 mm/day to 82.39mm/day, Mastihalla and Beilangi were also intermittent with 7 to 10 month of water yield. Yaana stream had higher base flow where as other catchments had higher overlandflows during monsoon. Despite lower rainfall during 2015, water discharges were observed during all 12 months in Yaana stream with the relatively higher water yield. The study confirms the linkages of hydrological and catchment vegetation cover (undisturbed forest patches in Yaana) in sustaining water while catering to the societal and environmental water requirements.
Ecologically sensitive regions (ESRs) are the ‘ecological units’ with the exceptional biotic and abiotic elements. Identification of ESRs considering spatially both ecological and social dimensions of environmental variables helps in ecological and conservation planning as per Biodiversity Act, 2002, Government of India. The current research attempts to integrate ecological and environmental considerations into administration, and prioritizes regions at Panchayat levels (local administrative unit) in Uttara Kannada district, Central Western Ghats, Karnataka state considering attributes (biological, Geo-climatic, Social, etc.) as ESR (1–4) through weightage score metrics. The region has the distinction of having highest forest area (80.48%) in Karnataka State, India and has been undergoing severe anthropogenic pressures impacting biogeochemistry, hydrology, food security, climate and socio-economic systems. Prioritisation of ESRs helps in the implementation of the sustainable developmental framework with the appropriate conservation strategies through the involvement of local stakeholders.
Sedimentation involving the process of silt transport also carries nutrients from upstream to downstream of a river/stream. Sand being one of the important fraction of these sediments is extracted in order to cater infrastructural/housing needs in the region. This communication is based on field research in the Aghanshini river basin, west coast of India. Silt yield in the river basin and the sedimentation rate assessed using empirical techniques supplemented with field quantifications using soundings (SONAR), show the sediment yield of 1105-1367 kilo cum per year and deposition of sediment of 61 (2016) to 71 (2015) cm. Quantifications of extractions at five locations, reveal of over exploitation of sand to an extent of 30% with damages to the breeding ground of fishes, reduced productivity of bivalves, etc., which has affected dependent people's livelihood. This study provides vital insights towards sustainable sand harvesting through stringent management practices.
Forest ecosystems sustain biota on the earth as they are habitat to diverse biotic species, arrests soil erosion, play a crucial role in water cycle, sequester carbon, and helps in mitigating the impacts of global warming. Large scale land use land cover (LULC) change leading to deforestation is one of the drivers of global climate changes and alteration of biogeochemical cycles with significant consequences in ecosystem services and biodiversity. This has necessitated the investigation of LULC by mapping, monitoring and modelling spatio-temporal patterns and evaluating these in the context of human-environment interactions. The current work investigates LULC changes with temperature dynamics of select protected areas in Western Ghats. The land use analyses reveal changes in the forest cover across Kudremukh National Park (KNP), Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Reserve (RTR), Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR). KNP region has lost evergreen forest cover during 1973–2016 from 33.46 to 27.22%, while BTR lost deciduous cover from 61.69 to 47.3% due to mining, horticulture plantations, human habitations, etc. The LST increase has impacted regeneration of species with the induced water stress, etc. CA-Markov modelling was used for forecasting the likely land uses in 2026 and validation was done through Kappa indices. Results highlight decline of evergreen cover in KNP (9%) and deciduous cover in RTR (2%) followed by BTR (3%) with further expansion of plantations, which will impact biodiversity, hydrology and ecology. Insights of LULC dynamics help natural resource managers in evolving appropriate strategies to ensure conservation of threatened biota in Western Ghats.