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Role of vegetation in soil conservation and hydrological hazards management (co-organized)
Convener: Giovanni Battista Chirico  | Co-Conveners: Hans Peter Rauch , Frank Graf , Federico Preti , Freddy Rey 
 / Tue, 14 Apr, 15:30–17:15
 / Attendance Tue, 14 Apr, 17:30–19:00

Water driven erosion processes, landslides, and flooding are among the most threatening natural hazards for humanity all over the world. Environmentally compatible and long-term surface protection is one of the privileges of plants acting in concert with other organisms. There is evidence to suggest that biological measures naturally contribute to the strength of soil all along the successional paths of plant associations with considerable influence on geotechnical, hydrological, and hydraulic processes. Additionally, biological activity is supposed to substantially increase in time below and above ground and to influence the physical and chemical properties of the soil and its drainage system. Yet, uncertainties are rather frequent, not least due to a missing reliable scientific base.
Consequently, the application of joint technical and biological measures as a standardised engineering method is a crucial requirement. That for, the dynamic interaction processes between the living organisms (bio system), soil, water (geo system), and technical measures (tech system) need to be quantified, allowing to soundly answer fundamental questions.
What exactly are contributions of the vegetation in view of soil stability in general and related to support, anchoring, drainage, reinforcement, armour and hydraulic resistance in particular?
What selection criteria are planting strategies based on and which criteria are indispensable for sustainable protection against the corresponding hazards?
What are the best strategies for managing riparian vegetation, allowing for both ecological and hydraulic risk management needs?
What are the eco-logical and socio-economic consequences of soil bioengineering measures?
How does global change affect soil bioengineering and how can it be considered regarding the selection of appropriate species for recolonizing degraded soil?
The goal of this session is to create a forum where experimentalists and modelers from different disciplines can share their experiences on these issues, to get an overview of the state of the art and to identify future research challenges. We solicit contributions presenting experimental and numerical studies which can shed light on the following topics:
- Influence of vegetation cover on soil water erosion rate as well as hillslope and catchment hydrological response;
- Effect of plant roots on the soil resistance to water erosion;
- Slope and river bank stability enhancement by root reinforcement;
- Relevance of the soil suction regime induced by root water extraction on shallow landslide hazards;
- Below- and above-ground biomass dynamics after disturbing events (e.g. fire, vegetation cutting, etc.) and relative effects on soil erosion and shallow landslide hazards;
- Best practices for riparian vegetation management;
- Role of vegetation in soil bioengineering works and innovative approaches for its quantitative assessment.