Preserving terrestrial ecosystems requires targeted efforts to promote sustainable land-use and water management for both agricultural and industrial purposes. To do so, it is a necessity to develop realistic proposals for improving water use efficiency especially in arid and semi-arid regions where increasing demand for water is a complex challenge with all the associated socio-economic implications. Realizing this urgency, we are interested in developing novel tools for sustainable land-use, water and ecosystem management at different scale. As a case study, we considered the Lake Urmia disaster in Iran. This lake has experienced severe water shrinkage, losing nearly 90% of its initial volume in less than 25 years causing an unprecedented ecological disaster in the region. The salt and dust storms originated from the lake’s dried bed have the potential to endanger the sustainability of local ecosystems, agriculture, regional health, and tourism. A combination of severe climatic and anthropogenic changes in the lake basin has resulted in considerable decrease in water inflow into the lake and its desiccation. Through a combination of climatic, agronomic and hydrologic assessments, we developed a comprehensive scheme for restoration of the lake water body by sustainable water and land management in the lake basin. Figure 1 presents a typical example of our modelling results illustrating the proposed agriculture land-use scheme for restoration of the lake by 2050.
Figure caption. The Urmia basin and six major agricultural sub-basins considered in our investigation (see more details in Hassani et al. (2020), Science of the Total Environment, 703, 134718).
Figure caption. Proposed land-use change in the Lake Urmia’s basin for the restoration of the lake by 2050. Each bar chart shows the proposed change in the current area under cultivation in the agricultural sub-basins (shown in the above figure) considering 14 major crop categories. New cropping patterns refer to two options: intra-basin restoration of the lake (a to f) and inter-basin restoration (g to l). Consideration was given to the role of the major stressors: rise in the basin’s temperature, increase in population/dry years, and completion of upstream reservoirs and irrigation networks (see more details in Hassani et al. (2020), Science of the Total Environment, 703, 134718).