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Hydrogeological characterization of Gorongosa National Park and the impact of land use changes

  • 1 March, 2023
  • Wageningen University, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management
  • dr. V.F. Bense
  • dr.ir. S.M.T. Mustafa

Gorongosa National Park is a ca. 4000 km² national park located in Sofala province, Mozambique. The Lake Urema wetland system is an important component of the Gorongosa ecosystem and serves as a vital source of water for both the park and the surrounding communities. Although the Gorongosa ecosystem would not exist as such without the presence of the lake, its water balance has not been accurately quantified and much uncertainty exists regarding the relative importance of different influxes. Besides the uncertainties regarding local hydro(geo)logy, the impact of current irrigation practices and widespread deforestation on the lake’s water balance is largely unquantified, which has led to many unsubstantiated assumptions regarding sustainable management practices. The resulting management decisions are potentially limiting to agricultural development of communities living in the buffer zone around the park, which has implications for the livelihoods of these communities. This could ultimately backfire on the condition of the park’s ecosystem through the potential increase of destructive practices such as poaching or increased deforestation. The goal of this research is thus to accurately quantify the water fluxes in the catchment and their contribution to the water balance of Lake Urema, and subsequently assess the relative impact of land use changes (irrigation and deforestation).

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Thijs de Klein

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