Conversion from coppice to high stand increase soil erosion in steep forestland of European beech
AbstractIn forestlands on steep slopes, where the shallow soil can be considered a non-renewable resource, erosion is of special concern. The vegetation covers, at both soil and canopy level, provides essential protection to the soil against the rainfall erosivity and reduces considerably the water erosion rate. Consequently vegetation management may affect soil erosion. We focused our attention on old coppice beech forest growing on a steep slope (28-32Â°) and subjected to conversion to high stand. With the aim of obtaining information on surface water flow and the mineral soil loss, three runoff-erosion plots (10 m long Â´ 3 m wide) were installed in catchments in Lombardy Alps (Intelvi Valley, Como) at three stands: a coppice 40 years old (CpS 1968) and two conversions from coppice to high forest respectively cut in 1994 (CvS 1994) and 2004 (CvS 2004). Water run-off and sediment losses were collected from June to October 2008 and from May to October 2009 together with stand characteristics, LAI, soil surface cover, canopy cover and fine-root traits. Our results showed that the conversion practices significantly affect the water runoff and soil erosion with the younger conversion CvS 2004 showing the highest erosivity. This was due to the lower values of tree density, canopy cover, soil surface cover and fine-root biomass and length. The old coppice stand (CpS 1968) together with the older conversion stand (CvS 1994) showed comparable values of soil erosion. Therefore, the major role in protecting soil from erosion played by old coppice stand is recovered by the conversion stand after a number of years since harvesting. Our study highlights that abandoned old coppice stand plays an important role in protecting soil from erosion and claims consideration in forest management of steep forestland stands.
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