Hydrological Processes in a humid Tropical Rain Forest: A Combined Experimental and Modelling Approach

Schellekens, J. 2000. Hydrological processes in a humid tropical rain
forest: a combined experimental and modeling approach. Ph.D.
Thesis, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University
Press, 158 p.

With populations growing explosively in the tropical parts of the world, and the per capita water demands increasing where living standards improve, optimisation of water resources is becoming increasingly important [Bonell et al., 1993]. Similarly, the strong demands for industrial wood (pulpwood, saw and veneer logs), fuelwood and charcoal, require the establishment of large areas of fast-growing plantation forests, often on land that is currently not forested [Evans, 1992; Brown et al., 1997]. Coupled with (i) the continued indiscriminate clearing of the world’s tropical forests [Jepma, 1995; Nepstad et al., 1999] which in many areas serve as the traditional supplier of high quality water; (ii) the associated deterioration of soil and water quality due to erosion and pollution [Oldeman, 1994], plus (iii) the possibility of gradually less dependable precipitation inputs and (in certain ‘maritime’ tropical areas away from the equator) an increasing frequency of devastating hurricanes due to ‘global change’ [Wasser and Harger, 1992], a sound understanding of the hydrological functioning of tropical forests is arguably even more important nowadays than ever before [cf. Bruijnzeel, 1990, 2000a]. Bruijnzeel and Abdul Rahim [1992] suggested that in a time of dwindling resources, additional forest hydrological research in the humid tropics could best be carried out at a limited number of carefully selected data-rich key locations that could be loosely joined together in a network that captures the environmental variability encountered in the humid tropics. Furthermore, Bruijnzeel [1993] and Bonell and Balek [1993] considered a catchment-based approach to offer the best framework for such research as this allows for the integration of hydrological, geomorphological, pedological and ecological observations in a spatial context, particularly if supplemented by process studies and physicallybased distributed modelling.