The principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), conservation of natural capital, and water accounting requires Hydrological Eco-System Services (HESS) to be determined. This paper presents a modeling approach for quantifying the HESS framework using the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). SWAT was used–after calibration against remote sensing data–to quantify and spatially identify total runoff, natural livestock feed production, fuelwood from natural forests, dry season flow, groundwater recharge, root zone storage for carrying over water from wet to dry season, sustaining rainfall, peak flow attenuation, carbon sequestration, microclimate cooling, and meeting environmental flow requirements. The environmental value of the current land use and vegetation was made explicit by carrying out parallel simulations for bare soil and vegetation conditions and reporting the incremental ecosystem services. Geographical areas with more and fewer HESS are identified. The spatial and temporal variability of annual HESS services is demonstrated for the Day Basin—which is part of the Red River delta (Vietnam)—for the period 2003 to 2013. The result shows that even though the basin is abundant with HESS, e.g., 7482 m3/ha of runoff, 3820 m3/ha of groundwater recharge, the trend for many HESS values, e.g., micro-climate cooling, meeting environmental flow requirements, and rootzone storage, are declining. It is found and proven that quantified HESS indicators highlighted the provisioning and regulating characters of ecosystem services, as well as geographical hotspots across the basin. The SWAT model shows the capability of simulating terrestrial eco-hydrological processes such as climate, soil, and current land use. The methodology illustrates how eco-hydrologists can benchmark ecosystem values and include HESS in exploring river basin management scenarios, climate change studies, and land use planning.
- hydrological ecosystem services
- hydrological modeling
- remote sensing
- ecosystem service accounting
- Red River Basin