Who Are we Measuring and Modeling for? Supporting Multilevel Decision-Making in Watershed Management

Leah L. Bremer, Perrine Hamel, Alexandra G. Ponette-González, Patricia V. Pompeu, Sandra I. Saad, Kate A. Brauman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


As watershed management programs have become more common globally, so have efforts to support these initiatives through hydrologic modeling and monitoring. However, these efforts are often guided by oversimplified assumptions of how management programs work and the quantity, quality, and type of information needed to support their planning, implementation, and evaluation. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with project managers, funders, and participants in three watershed management programs in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil revealed a range of hydrologic modeling and monitoring needs of watershed management programs. We identify five opportunities for hydrologic information to support overlapping management contexts: (1) inspire action and support, (2) inform investment decisions, (3) engage with potential participants, (4) prioritize location and types of activities at regional to national scales, and (5) evaluate program success. Within these opportunities, understanding who will use the information generated and how they will do so is critical to increasing the salience, credibility, and legitimacy of modeling efforts. Hydrologic modeling and monitoring play a small but critical role in the larger context of program conceptualization, design, implementation, and evaluation; grounding these efforts in local contexts supports watershed management projects in relevant and effective ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019WR026011
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • ecosystem services
  • hydrologic services
  • modeling
  • payments for ecosystem services
  • stakeholder engagement
  • Watershed management

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