Development of a land-use forecast tool for future water resources assessment: case study for the Mekong River 3S Sub-basins


Land-use change is one of the major factors that alter local and regional hydrology. For areas experiencing fast expansion of urban and agriculture areas, land-use changes often adversely affect stream flow and water resources at the local and watershed scale. The Sekong, Sesan, and Srepok (3S) Sub-basins are a part of the Lower Mekong River Basin and include land in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), and Viet Nam. The region is experiencing a dynamic land-use transition because of rapid changes in its economy, society, and environment. Major land-use changes include deforestation of native rain forest, expansion of agricultural and urban areas, and expansion of commercial plantation such as rubber trees. These land-use alterations have affected local and regional hydrologic processes, resulting in stream flow shortages during the dry season and flash flooding due to deforestation. In this research, deforestation in the 3S Sub-basins over the period 1993–1997 was analyzed using multi-logistic regression. The regression analysis indicated that density of agricultural cells within a 5-km radius from each forest cell and slope strongly affected the deforestation process. A land-use forecast model to simulate deforestation and urbanization sites was developed in GIS based on local land-use change trends. The model was applied to 2003 land use to forecast 2033 land use and future water demand, which was further compared with present stream flow measurements during the dry season at various places in the region. The entire approach from the land-use forecast to its impact assessment on stream flow could help local stakeholders understand watershed-wide future water resources risks and develop future water resources plans. With the 3S Sub-basins being used as a case study area, this article presents a land-use forecast tool; simulated 2033 land-use and water demand; and the estimation of the impact of the forecasted future water demand on the local stream flow.

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This study was supported by Grant for Environmental Research Projects, The Sumitomo Foundation, Japan, and the Asian Center faculty grant, Harvard University Asia Center, USA. The GIS and hydrological data set was provided by the Mekong River Commission. Mr. Pham Tan Ha, Senior Water Resources expert, Grontmij VietNam, and Dr. Ty Tran Van, lecturer, College of Technology, Can Tho University, Viet Nam, provided a great deal of valuable advice. The authors would hereby like to express our gratitude for all this support for this research.

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Correspondence to Masatsugu Takamatsu.

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Handled by Osamu Saito, UNU-Institute for Sustainability and Peace (ISP), Japan.

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Takamatsu, M., Kawasaki, A., Rogers, P.P. et al. Development of a land-use forecast tool for future water resources assessment: case study for the Mekong River 3S Sub-basins. Sustain Sci 9, 157–172 (2014).

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  • Land-use forecast
  • Water resources management
  • Water demand
  • GIS