Forests and water are closely related to each other. Thus, forest management is crucial for the sustainable clean water supply. Forest thinning is one of the fundamental forest management practices, as it can change runoff by controlling the density of trees. In this study, the effect of forest thinning on long-term runoff changes was evaluated, based on the long-term rainfall-runoff data of a coniferous plantation forest catchment in Korea. From the double mass curve and Pettitt’s test, a statistically significant increase in runoff rates was identified. A simple linear regression model of the double mass curve can successfully quantify the net effect of forest thinning on the runoff increase. Furthermore, it was also confirmed that forest thinning does not significantly increase the risk of flooding. About ten years after forest thinning, crown closure rates of the coniferous plantation forest reached a level similar to the pre-thinning period, and runoff rates returned to the pre-thinning level, due to forest growth. As a result of this study, a proposed direction for Korea’s forest policy for water resource management is presented for the future.
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