Annual soil losses in southern Italy can exceed 100-150 t ha-1 year-1. Where erosion on agricultural land is particuilarly severe, land use change and afforestation are frequently seen as the most appropriate means of reducing erosion risk. However, the overall effectiveness of afforestation in reducing soil erosion remains uncertain, due to the poor development of the forest cover in some areas, leading to significant areas with sparse tree cover, and the erosional impact of forest harvesting, which commonly involves clearcutting. The study reported here addresses this uncertainty and focuses on two small catchments (W2 and W3) located in Calabria, southern Italy, for which measurements of suspended sediment yield are available. Both the catchments originally supported a rangeland vegetation cover and they were planted with eucalyptus trees in 1968. Currently, only catchment W3 supports a continuous forest cover. In catchment catchment W2 the forest cover is discontinuous and there are substantial areas where the tree cover is sparse and the vegetation cover is dominated by natural grasses. Two additional erosion plots were established within catchment W2 in 1991, in order to explore the effect of the density of the tree cover on soil erosion. Information on the sediment yields from the two catchments and the plots for 10 storm events that occurred during the period December 2005-December 2006 and associated information on the 137Cs and excess 210Pb of the sediment, have been used to investigate the effectiveness of afforestation in reducing sediment mobilisation and net soil loss from the catchments involved. The results demonstrate that the areas of greatest soil loss are associated with the slopes where the tree cover is discontinuous, and that forest harvesting by clearcutting causes significant short-term increases in sediment mobilisation and sediment yield. These findings, which are consistent with some previous work undertaken within the same area, emphasiz the importance of vegetation cover density in influencing rates of soil loss in the study catchments. The study also provided a useful demonstration of the potential for using measurements of the 137Cs and 210Pbex content of sediment, in combination with more traditional sediment monitoring, to investigate sediment sources and to compare the sediment dynamics of catchments subjected to different land management practices.
|Titolo:||Investigating the effects of afforestation on soil erosion and sediment mobilisation in two small catchments in Southern Italy|
PORTO, Paolo (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2009|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|