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Monocultures put the proper water cycle at risk

In the latest issue of Nature Geoscience, an international team of scientists shows that the current land management, promoting monocultures in forestry and agriculture, has a negative impact on water resources and hinders climate change adaptation. Their conclusions have been based on the analysis of ecohydrological processes. Prof. Maciej Zalewski, from the European Regional Center for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, co-authored the article.

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Forest monocultures, in other words single-species forest plantations, are much less resilient to climate extremes, such as drought events, than natural or mixed-species forests. What weakens them is the lack of biological and spatial diversity. At the same time, forest areas with varied tree stands and nutrient-rich mulches help retain soil moisture, restore groundwater resources, limit soil erosion, siltation and eutrophication of dam reservoirs, and significantly reduce the risk of flooding.

Appeal to avoid monoculture plantations  

Scientists postulate to shape "intelligent ecosystems", based on the analysis of ecohydrological processes. These ecosystems would be characterized by enhanced water retention capacity and rich biodiversity, which in turn would provide a wide range of economic and social benefits, and would also increase resilience to climate change.

Read the full article "Homogenization of the terrestrial water cycle" in Nature Geoscience.

Find out more about the "intelligent ecosystems" concept in Prof. Maciej Zalewski’s article entitled "Ecohydrology and Hydrologic Engineering: Regulation of Hydrology-Biota Interactions for Sustainability" published in the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering.