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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 4: Rainwater Catchment in Agriculture

Paper 4.4

Water Harvesting for Afforestation in Dry Areas

Dieter Prinz
Institute of Water Resources Management
Hydraulic and Rural Engineering,


In arid and semiarid regions, where rainfall is not sufficient to sustain a good seedling/tree growth, water harvesting for afforestation is applied. Water harvesting can significantly increase the rate of tree establishment in drought prone areas by concentrating the rainfall/runoff ('Run-off Irrigation').

These advantages are countered by the problem of unreliability of rainfall, which can be partly overcome by interim storage (cisterns, small reservoirs etc.). Modern hydrological tools (e.g. calculation of rainfall probability) allow a more precise determination of the necessary size of the catchment area (Prinz et al., 1998).

There are two major groups of water harvesting techniques: (1) Rainwater Harvesting, which is the collection of runoff and its use for the irrigation of crops, pastures and trees and (2) Floodwater Harvesting, also called 'Spate Irrigation', which uses the floodwater of ephemeral streams and rivers.

Parameters: The most important parameters to be taken into consideration in selecting a water harvesting technique for afforestation are: (1) rainfall distribution and rainfall intensity, (2) topographical condition, (3) runoff / infiltration characteristics of the location, (4) water storage capacity of soils, cisterns and reservoirs, (5) the type of fruit, nut, or forest tree, (6) available technologies and socio-economic conditions and preferences of the cultivator.

PDF of full document (4pp, 26kb)

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