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Quantifying the effects of Eucalyptus plantations and management on water resources at plot and catchment scales


Almeida, AC and Smethurst, PJ and Siggins, A and Cavalcante, RBL and Borges Jr, N, Quantifying the effects of Eucalyptus plantations and management on water resources at plot and catchment scales, Hydrological Processes: An International Journal, 30, (25) pp. 4687-4703. ISSN 0885-6087 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1002/hyp.10992


Our aim was to quantify the effects of forest plantation and management (clear cut or 30% partial harvest) in relation to pasture, on catchment discharge in southeast Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. A paired-catchment approach was implemented in two regions (Eldorado do Sul and São Gabriel municipalities) where discharge was measured for 4 years at three catchments in each region, two of which were predominantly eucalypt plantation (mainly Eucalyptus saligna, rotation of approximately 7–9 years) with native forest and grass in streamside zones. The third catchment was covered with grazed pasture. Weather, soils, canopy interception, groundwater level, tree growth, and leaf area index were also measured.

The 3-PG process-based forest productivity model was adapted to predict spatial daily plantation and pasture water balance including precipitation interception, soil evaporation, transpiration, soil moisture, drainage, discharge, and monthly plantation growth. The TOPMODEL framework was used to simulate water pools and fluxes in the catchments.

Discharge was higher under pasture than pre-harvesting plantation and increased for 1–2 years after complete plantation harvest; this change was less pronounced in the catchments under partial harvest. The ratio of discharge to precipitation before harvesting varied from 7% to 13% in the eucalypt catchments and 28% to 29% under pasture. The ratio increases to 23–24% after total harvest, and to 17% after partial harvesting. The ratio under pasture also increases during this period (to 32–44%) owing to increased precipitation. The baseflow, in relation to total discharge, varied from 28% to 62% under Eucalyptus and from 38% to 43% in the pasture catchments. Hence, eucalypt plantations in these regions can be expected to influence discharge regimes when compared with pasture land use, and modelling suggests that partial harvesting would moderate the magnitude of discharge variation compared with a full catchment plantation harvesting. The model efficiency coefficient (Nash–Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficient) varied from 0.665 to 0.799 for the total period of the study. Simulation of alternative harvesting scenarios suggested that at least 20% of the catchment planted area must be harvested to increase discharge. This model could be a useful practical tool in various plantation forestry contexts around the world.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:water, discharge, catchment, Eucalyptus, pasture, native forest, modelling, 3-PG, harvesting
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Forestry sciences
Research Field:Forestry management and environment
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable plant production
Objective Field:Environmentally sustainable plant production not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Almeida, AC (Dr Auro Almeida)
UTAS Author:Smethurst, PJ (Dr Philip Smethurst)
ID Code:117098
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2017-05-31
Last Modified:2017-10-17

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