Reforestation, Water Yield, and Management of Micro-Watersheds in Central America
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In Central America, two conflicting narratives are used to describe the relationship between forest cover and water availability, with implications for management of water resources throughout the region. Many resource managers believe forests increase dry season water availability, but scientific consensus refutes this perspective. This study analyzes the narratives explaining the relationship between forest cover and dry season water yields in Central America and how they influence resource management. In a case study of the Sasle catchment in Nicaragua, I use a combination of satellite imagery analysis and SWAT hydrologic modeling to investigate land use change over the past 25 years and the potential impact of these changes on the hydrology of the catchment. False perceptions of the role of land cover in hydrology are influencing management practices in sensitive headwater catchments and creating unintended results. A broader perspective on the socio-political and scientific context of these narratives is needed.