Modelling the hydrologic response of a mesoscale Andean watershed to changes in land use patterns for environmental planning
Abstract. A multidisciplinary approach is followed for analysis of the effect of changes in land use patterns on the hydrologic response of the Vergara watershed (4340 km2) located in central Chile. Probable future land use scenarios were generated using heuristic rules and logistic regression models, in order to identify and represent the main pressure on the watershed, namely forestation of extensive areas used for agriculture with rapid growing exotic species. The hydrologic response of the watershed was computed with a physically based distributed precipitation-runoff model, which was calibrated and validated for the current period. Results show that mean annual discharge increase with agricultural land use and diminish with introduced forest coverage. Thus, forestation of areas with introduced species like Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus might be regulated in order to protect the water resources of the watershed.