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Hydrology 2016, 3(3), 25; doi:10.3390/hydrology3030025

Runoff and Soil Erosion Assessment on Forest Roads Using a Small Scale Rainfall Simulator

Department of Geography, Institute for Integrated Natural Sciences, University Koblenz-Landau, Universitätsstr. 1, D-56070 Koblenz, Germany
Academic Editor: Thomas Iserloh
Received: 12 February 2016 / Revised: 29 May 2016 / Accepted: 15 June 2016 / Published: 1 July 2016
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Abstract

Forestry operations can significantly alter hydrological and erosional processes in a catchment. In the course of developing timberland, a network of persistent roads and skid trails causing soil compaction is usually established. Hereby, the infiltration rate of the soil is distinctly reduced, which leads to the generation of overland flow—this may also cause soil erosion. In this study, a small-scale rainfall simulator is used to investigate hydrological and erosional processes on forest roads and skid trails. The results show increased runoff rates on forest roads, up to 25 times higher than on undisturbed forest topsoil. On skid trails, the runoff rates were altered especially in rutted areas (16 times higher) while unrutted parts showed a lesser change (four times higher). With sufficient overland flow, soil erosion rates also rose, particularly when the vegetation cover of the surface was removed: bare road surfaces featured higher mean erosion rates (195 g·m−2) than partly or completely vegetated skid trails (13 g·m−2) and undisturbed sites (5 g·m−2). The findings presented in this study indicate the need for the use of compaction reducing technology during forestry operations and a revegetation of road surfaces in order to minimize the detrimental factor of roads and skid trails on water retention and soil conservation. View Full-Text
Keywords: rainfall simulation; skid trails; forestry; forest hydrology; Rhineland-Palatine; Germany rainfall simulation; skid trails; forestry; forest hydrology; Rhineland-Palatine; Germany
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Zemke, J.J. Runoff and Soil Erosion Assessment on Forest Roads Using a Small Scale Rainfall Simulator. Hydrology 2016, 3, 25.

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