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Subproject 4 - Sustainable water management related to geo-biofeedback knowledge

Summary & objectives:

The objective of the OPTIMASS subproject 4 is to identify, analyse and assess adapted and forward- looking water management strategies for improving ecosystem recovery and sustainable stabilisation of ecosystem services under present conditions and possible effects of climate change. A hypothesis is that enhancing water buffer capacities of soils and vegetation is a decisive means for the development of adapted and sustainable water management options and for envisaging respective management strategies for savanna ecosystems. This goes along with the appraisal that not all possible and available water management options are currently equally considered in Namibian rangelands and that important alternative management options like e.g. water harvesting are neglected.

In particular, the following aims are addressed:

  1. Degradation of land and water resources is an on-going or imminent threat to dryland systems throughout the world. Therefore, S4 aims at a better understanding of how water management can mitigate this degradation process and sustainably stabilise the system. Hereby, the specific perspective lies on the local actors (land and water users) with their strategies for action oriented to specific benefits.
  2. For all field sites and respective conditions, S4 aims at generating a comprehensive picture on current and potential water management options and of available ESS. Different land use and climate change scenarios are decisive for the consideration of contrasting contexts in future. 
Regarding water management options, special attention will be given to enhanced water buffer capacities, changed water infrastructures and further management actions. This concretise e.g. with rainwater and runoff harvesting, in-channel structures as small dams, infiltration techniques or even reforestation in case of beneficial effects of trees on soil moisture and evaporation under certain conditions. 
Regarding ESS, water use efficiency, erosion control, green water flows, groundwater and vegetation will be under consideration as important factors for societal benefits. The- se benefits directly link to freshwater availability, agricultural and livestock production, tourism, wildlife and game farming. The contribution to global climate change mitigation by CO2 storage and the reduction of regional vulnerabilities are of further relevance.
  3. For a better understanding of the interactions between actors and savanna ecosystems under different conditions and scenarios, S4 aims at the further development of adapted methods in participatory modelling of local knowledge, experiences and implicit uncertainties. In conjunction with process-based approaches, this will create new opportunities for knowledge exchange between science, society and policy.
  4. S4 aims to provide recommendations for policy, strategy development and management practise, which integrate water and land use.
  5. S4 aims to contribute to academic capacity development in Namibia and Germany. 


Involved Researchers:

  • Dr. Stefan Liehr (PI) email
  • Dr. Heike Wanke (PI) email
  • PD Dr. Thomas Kluge (PI) email
  • Dr. Oliver Schulz (PostDoc) email
  • Dr. Jenny Bischofberger (PostDoc) email