Prescribed fire is commonly used to reduce the wildfire risk in Mediterranean forests, but the soil's hydrological response after fire is contrasting in literature experiences. The mulch treatment can limit the increases in runoff and erosion in the short term after a fire. The use of fern is preferable to straw, due its large availability in forests. However, no experiences of post-fire treatment with fern mulch have been found in the literature and therefore the mulching effectiveness has not been evaluated. This study has measured water infiltration rate (IR) and water repellency (SWR) using a rainfall simulator in three Mediterranean forest stands (pine, oak and chestnut) of Calabria (Southern Italy) after a prescribed fire and mulching treatment with fern in comparison to unburned soil. Prescribed fire reduced water infiltration in all forests in the short term compared to the unburned conditions, and increased SWR in pine and oak forests. These reductions in IR in the time window of disturbance after fire increased the runoff generation capacity in all soils, but had a lower effect on peak flows. However, soil mulching with fern limited the runoff rates and peak flows compared to the burned soils, but this treatment was less effective in pine forest. One year after fire, IR increased in burned soils (treated or not) over time, and SWR disappeared. The effects of mulching have disappeared after some months from fire. The study confirms the usefulness of mulching in broadleaves forest in the short term, in order to control the hydrological effects of prescribed fire in Mediterranean forests. Both post-fire management techniques should be instead adopted with caution in conifer forests.

Water Infiltration after Prescribed Fire and Soil Mulching with Fern in Mediterranean Forests

Giuseppe Bombino;Demetrio Antonio Zema
2021

Abstract

Prescribed fire is commonly used to reduce the wildfire risk in Mediterranean forests, but the soil's hydrological response after fire is contrasting in literature experiences. The mulch treatment can limit the increases in runoff and erosion in the short term after a fire. The use of fern is preferable to straw, due its large availability in forests. However, no experiences of post-fire treatment with fern mulch have been found in the literature and therefore the mulching effectiveness has not been evaluated. This study has measured water infiltration rate (IR) and water repellency (SWR) using a rainfall simulator in three Mediterranean forest stands (pine, oak and chestnut) of Calabria (Southern Italy) after a prescribed fire and mulching treatment with fern in comparison to unburned soil. Prescribed fire reduced water infiltration in all forests in the short term compared to the unburned conditions, and increased SWR in pine and oak forests. These reductions in IR in the time window of disturbance after fire increased the runoff generation capacity in all soils, but had a lower effect on peak flows. However, soil mulching with fern limited the runoff rates and peak flows compared to the burned soils, but this treatment was less effective in pine forest. One year after fire, IR increased in burned soils (treated or not) over time, and SWR disappeared. The effects of mulching have disappeared after some months from fire. The study confirms the usefulness of mulching in broadleaves forest in the short term, in order to control the hydrological effects of prescribed fire in Mediterranean forests. Both post-fire management techniques should be instead adopted with caution in conifer forests.
water infiltration rate
rainfall simulator
time to peak
peak discharge
surface runoff
soil water repellency
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Carrà_2021_Hydrology_Water_edit.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 56.78 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
56.78 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/130046
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 17
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 14
social impact