Santos, A., P. Godinho, D., Vizinho, A., Alves, F., Pinho, P., Penha-Lopes, G. & Branquinho, C. (2018) Artificial lakes as a climate change adaptation strategy in drylands: evaluating the trade-off on non-target ecosystem services.Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 23(6), 887-906. DOI: (IF2017 2,585; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
Drylands are very susceptible to the effects of climate change due to water stress. One possible climate change adaptation measure is the construction of lakes to increase water availability for drinking and irrigation (food production) and decrease fire risk. These lakes can also increase local biodiversity and human well-being. However, other non-target services such as carbon (C) storage, water purification, and sediment retention might also change. Our main aim was to evaluate the trade-offs on non-targeted ecosystem services due to lakes construction in drylands. This was done using the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) modeling tools, comparing a Mediterranean area located in southwest (SW) Europe, with and without artificial lakes. Results showed that the construction of artificial lakes caused an increase of 9.4% in C storage. However, the consequent increase in agricultural area decreased water purification and sediment retention services. This could diminish the life span of the lakes changing the initial beneficial cost-benefit analysis on lakes as adaptation measures to climate change. As a global measure for mitigation and adaptation to climate change strategy, we consider lake construction in drylands to be positive since it can store C in sediments and reduces the vulnerability to water scarcity. However, as a general recommendation and when built to support or increase agriculture in semi-arid landscapes, we consider that lakes should be complemented with additional measures to reduce soil erosion and nutrient leaching such as (i) locate agricultural areas outside the lakes water basin, (ii) afforestation surrounding the lakes, and (iii) adopt the best local agriculture practices to prevent and control soil erosion and nutrient leaching.