Watershed Exploration Tool


What is the Watershed Exploration Tool?

The Watershed Exploration Tool allows watersheds to be compared for their biodiversity and ecosystem function importance, for current (2005) and future (2050) scenarios in three tropical regions: the Great Lakes region of Africa, the Mekong Basin in South-East Asia and the Andes in South America.

Why was the tool made?

Land conversion and intensification of agricultural systems seem unavoidable and likely to result in loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The MacArthur Foundation funded research by UN Environment WCMC to address the urgent need to understand trade-offs between land uses, and to provide such information and analyses to stakeholders and decision makers. This study combines future scenarios with land use modelling, to evaluate priorities for conservation or other actions, in order to balance demands on land for regions characterised by high biodiversity and poverty.

The project aims to: i) provide a baseline to assess future impacts of development and ii) identify current and potential future priorities to inform activities of stakeholders, in relation to impacts of major commodity markets on biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

For full details of the project see here

A second study funded by the MacArthur foundation provided more detailed analysis for the Lake Victoria basin, based on smaller watersheds and land use modelling from all five countries surrounding the lake. Results can be explored via the Lake Victoria Basin tab on the home page.

How were results produced for this tool?
What should the tool not be used for?

The results for the watersheds in this tool are not comparable between the three regions or between global and regional scenarios. Results represent mean values for watersheds and thus may not reflect realities at local scales.

Where can I get further information?

For more information download the final spatial analysis report here, journal articles by van Soesbergen et al, (2016) and Mason-D’Cruz, D (2016), or see links below: