Carling, P.A., Irvine, B.J., Hill, A. and Wood, M.
Reducing sediment inputs to Scottish streams: a review of the efficacy of soil conservation practices in upland forestry
The Science of the Total Environment, 265, (1-3), . (doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(00)00660-4).
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The historical process by which a soil conservation strategy has evolved within the UK forestry industry is briefly reviewed. Particular attention is given to the development of practical and effective guidelines to prevent both soil damage and sediment entering water courses. It is concluded that the ‘Forest and Water Guidelines’, together with other forest industry manuals, largely provide adequate protection for aquatic habitats from pre-afforestation cultivation and from harvesting activities. The problem of soil erosion owing to ploughing of open furrows has largely been obviated by improved drainage network design coupled with the use of vegetated buffer strips and sediment catchpits. Alternative site preparation techniques, such as ‘moling’ or ‘dolloping’ of afforestation sites, are now preferred. However, the effects on slope hydrology and the improved soil conservation associated with these methods require quantifying. Additional understanding of effective buffer strip function, for example, on a variety of slope angles, soil types and vegetation associations would be beneficial. The design of forest roads and the associated network of drains, culverts and sediment catchpits is addressed in forestry guidelines. Future potential in this area may involve the use of Geographical Information Systems in the effective design of road networks which minimise adverse effects on slope hydrology. Similarly computer simulation of flow routing might aid in the design of road drain networks. At the more local scale there remains scope for further research aimed at minimising soil disturbance by machinery. Consideration should also be given to the long-term sustainability of the soil structure through second and subsequent crop rotations.
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