Methods for supporting decision-making of precision watershed management based on watershed system simulation and scenario optimization

Cheng-Zhi Qin, Liang-Jun Zhu*, Shen Shen, Tong Wu, Guirong Xiao, Sheng Wu, Yunzhi Chen, Xiaoqin Wang, Xianfeng Feng, A-Xing Zhu, and Feng Lu



The construction of China’s ecological civilization, known as “Beautiful China,” necessitates implementing precision watershed management through scientifically informed decision-making. This entails optimizing the spatial distribution of watershed best management practices (the so-called BMP scenario) and proposing multistage implementation plans, or roadmaps, that align with practical requirements based on the overarching vision of comprehensive watershed management. The “watershed system simulation-scenario optimization” method framework (the simulation-and-optimization-based framework for short) has demonstrated considerable potential in recent years.

To address challenges arising from practical applications of this framework, this study systematically conducted the methodological research:

1) proposing a novel watershed process modeling framework that strikes a balance between modeling flexibility and high-performance computing to model and simulate watershed systems efficiently;

2) introducing slope position units as BMP configuration units and enabling dynamic boundary adjustments during scenario optimization, effectively incorporating practical knowledge of watershed management to ensure reasonable outcomes;

3) presenting an optimization method for determining the implementation orders of BMPs that considers stepwise investment constraints, thereby recommending feasible roadmaps that meet practical needs;

and 4) designing a user-friendly participatory watershed planning system to facilitate collaborative decision-making among stakeholders. The effectiveness and practical value of these new methods, tools, and prototype systems are validated through application cases in a representative small watershed.

This research contributes to advancing precision watershed management and provides valuable insights for sustainable ecological development. The methods proposed within the simulation-and-optimization-based framework in this study are universal methods, which means their application does not depend on the specific implementation, such as the watershed process model, the BMP types considered, the designed BMP configuration strategy, and so on.

Further studies should be conducted not only to deepen related theory and method research but also to strengthen promotion and application, especially cooperating with local watershed management agents to provide valuable insights for their sustainable ecological development.


Qin, C.Z., Zhu, L.J., Shen, S., Wu, T., Xiao, G., Wu, S., Chen, Y., Wang, X., Feng, X., Zhu, A.X., Lu, F. 2024. Methods for supporting decision-making of precision watershed management based on watershed system simulation and scenario optimization. ACTA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA (in Chinese with English abstract), 79(1):58–75. doi:10.11821/dlxb202401005

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