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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (3): 457-469    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0012-3
Orginal Article     
Simulating long-term effect of Hyrcanian forest loss on phosphorus loading at the sub-watershed level
RAJAEI Fatemeh1,*(), E SARI Abbas1, SALMANMAHINY Abdolrassoul2, O RANDHIR Timothy3, DELAVAR Majid4, D BEHROOZ Reza5, M BAVANI Alireza6
1 Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Science, Tarbiat Modares University, Mazandaran 46414-356, Iran
2 Department of Environmental, Gorgan University of Agricultural Science & Natural Resources, Golestan 49168-16369, Iran;
3 Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA 01003, USA
4 Department of Water Resources, Agriculture Faculty, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran 14115-336, Iran
5 Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Zabol, Zabol 98615-538, Iran
6 Department of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, Faculty of Abouraihan, University of Tehran, Prakasht 3391653755, Iran
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Conversion of forest land to farmland in the Hyrcanian forest of northern Iran increases the nutrient input, especially the phosphorus (P) nutrient, thus impacting the water quality. Modeling the effect of forest loss on surface water quality provides valuable information for forest management. This study predicts the future impacts of forest loss between 2010 and 2040 on P loading in the Tajan River watershed at the sub-watershed level. To understand drivers of the land cover, we used Land Change Modeler (LCM) combining with the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to simulate the impacts of land use change on P loading. We characterized priority management areas for locating comprehensive and cost-effective management practices at the sub-watershed level. Results show that agricultural expansion has led to an intense deforestation. During the future period 2010-2040, forest area is expected to decrease by 34,739 hm2. And the areas of pasture and agriculture are expected to increase by 7668 and 27,071 hm2, respectively. In most sub-watersheds, P pollution will be intensified with the increase in deforestation by the year 2040. And the P concentration is expected to increase from 0.08 to 2.30 mg/L in all of sub-watersheds by the year 2040. It should be noted that the phosphorous concentration exceeds the American Public Health Association′s water quality standard of 0.2 mg/L for P in drinking water in both current and future scenarios in the Tajan River watershed. Only 30% of sub-watersheds will comply with the water quality standards by the year 2040. The finding of the present study highlights the importance of conserving forest area to maintain a stable water quality.

Key wordsphosphorus      land use change modeling      forest loss      prioritizing management area      Tajan River      Iran     
Received: 05 May 2017      Published: 10 June 2018
Corresponding Authors: RAJAEI Fatemeh     E-mail:
Cite this article:

RAJAEI Fatemeh, E SARI Abbas, SALMANMAHINY Abdolrassoul, O RANDHIR Timothy, DELAVAR Majid, D BEHROOZ Reza, M BAVANI Alireza. Simulating long-term effect of Hyrcanian forest loss on phosphorus loading at the sub-watershed level. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(3): 457-469.

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