Existing approaches to modelling the impacts of reforestation on tropical hydrology only simulate one or two changes, thereby limiting our ability to quantify the balance between complex positive and negative changes, even for a single micro-basin. To initiate a more holistic and multiscale approach, we develop a new simulation model structure within the Matlab-Simulink systems environment that firstly, illustrates quantifiable interrelationships between reforestation-related hydrological changes in the component systems of evapotranspiration, runoff generation, sediment delivery and nutrient processes. Secondly, the model structure allows us to highlight basin-scale time-series observations needed to quantify reforestation-related changes in the component hydrological processes.
The dynamic model developed is called forSIM and comprises of component models that are derived by means of the data-based mechanistic (DBM) philosophy. Such a modelling approach is required to constrain the large uncertainties that can arise from whole system modelling. The
review of the hydrological processes and controlling characteristics that change following reforestation and, therefore, need to be simulated, has highlighted the lack of basin-scale time-series observations of the potentially positive impacts of ‘protective’ reforestation on sediment and nutrient delivery, and the need to utilise more macro-scale data. The next phase of the modelling process is to derive estimates of systems parameters and simulation scenarios for specific macro-basins in the tropics undergoing extensive reforestation.