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Runoff, sediment loss and water quality from forest roads in a southeast Queensland coastal plain Pinus plantation

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Forsyth, A.R., Bubb, K.A. and Cox, M.E. (2006) Runoff, sediment loss and water quality from forest roads in a southeast Queensland coastal plain Pinus plantation. Forest Ecology and Management, 221 (1-3). pp. 194-206.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2005.09.018

Publisher URL: http://www.elsevier.com


Runoff and sediment loss from forest roads were monitored for a two-year period in a Pinus plantation in southeast Queensland. Two classes of road were investigated: a gravelled road, which is used as a primary daily haulage route for the logging area, and an ungravelled road, which provides the main access route for individual logging compartments and is intensively used as a haulage route only during the harvest of these areas (approximately every 30 years). Both roads were subjected to routine traffic loads and maintenance during the study. Surface runoff in response to natural rainfall was measured and samples taken for the determination of sediment and nutrient (total nitrogen, total phosphorus, dissolved organic carbon and total iron) loads from each road.

Results revealed that the mean runoff coefficient (runoff depth/rainfall depth) was consistently higher from the gravelled road plot with 0.57, as compared to the ungravelled road with 0.38. Total sediment loss over the two-year period was greatest from the gravelled road plot at 5.7 t km−1 compared to the ungravelled road plot with 3.9 t km−1. Suspended solids contributed 86% of the total sediment loss from the gravelled road, and 72% from the ungravelled road over the two years. Nitrogen loads from the two roads were both relatively constant throughout the study, and averaged 5.2 and 2.9 kg km−1 from the gravelled and ungravelled road, respectively. Mean annual phosphorus loads were 0.6 kg km−1 from the gravelled road and 0.2 kg km−1 from the ungravelled road. Organic carbon and total iron loads increased in the second year of the study, which was a much wetter year, and are thought to reflect the breakdown of organic matter in roadside drains and increased sediment generation, respectively.

When road and drain maintenance (grading) was performed runoff and sediment loss were increased from both road types. Additionally, the breakdown of the gravel road base due to high traffic intensity during wet conditions resulted in the formation of deep (10 cm) ruts which increased erosion.

The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP):Road model was used to compare predicted to observed runoff and sediment loss from the two road classes investigated. For individual rainfall events, WEPP:Road predicted output showed strong agreement with observed values of runoff and sediment loss. WEPP:Road predictions for annual sediment loss from the entire forestry road network in the study area also showed reasonable agreement with the extrapolated observed values.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Additional Information:© Elsevier B.V.
Keywords:Forestry roads; erosion; runoff; sediment; bedload; nutrients.
Subjects:Forestry > Forest roads
Live Archive:30 Oct 2008 06:22
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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