HS9.3/SSS5.23Effects of forest cover loss and land use change on erosion, sediment dynamics and ecosystem health (co-organized)
|Co-Convener: P. Owens|
Forests provide a vital service in protecting soil from erosion. Loss of forest cover increases erosion (by rainfall, surface runoff, gullies, landslides and river bank failure) and the transfer of eroded soil or sediment to the river network. Adverse impacts include reservoir sedimentation, aquatic habitat degradation and river channel instability. Sediment also greatly increases the destructive effects of floods. This forest/erosion interface takes many forms, e.g. wildfire impact, forest/landslide interaction and impact of pre-plantation activities such as ditching. However, despite decades of study, data on forests and erosion remain relatively fragmented and there is no integrated overview at regional to continental scales, e.g. at the European scale. Further, quantitative understanding does not yet match qualitative understanding and lags behind our ability to quantify, for example, the impact of forest cover on water yields and flood frequencies. There is scope therefore to integrate existing research to show the “big picture”, i.e. how erosion and its impact vary with forest cover, loss of cover and management at regional to continental scales, and to provide quantitative information, from experimental results to computer models. Such developments could help improve efficiency in the integrated management of forest, soil and water resources, benefit local engineering projects ranging from hazard mitigation plans to road culvert design, contribute to the implementation of the EU Water Framework Development, form a more objective basis for cost/benefit analysis of proposed management actions and help in putting a value on forest services. Presentations are therefore invited which illustrate the various forest/erosion interactions, which quantify the erosion impacts of forest loss and which identify prediction methods, from empirical guidelines to computer models, for extrapolating from individual studies to general (regional/continental) applications and for selecting appropriate mitigation techniques.