JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2005, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (5): 761-770.doi: 10.11849/zrzyxb.2005.05.016

• Special Column:Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of IGSNRR, CAS • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Forests and Streamflow-Consistence and Complexity

WEI Xiao-hua1, LI Wen-hua2, ZHOU Guo-yi3, LIU Shi-rong4, SUN Ge5   

  1. 1. Earth and Environmental Science Department, University of British Columbia(Okanagan), 3333 University Way, Kelowna BC V1V 1V7, Canada;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Botanical Garden of South China, CAS, Guangzhou 510650, China;
    4. Chinese Academy of Forestry Science, Beijing 100093, China;
    5. Southern Global Change Program, USDA Forest Service, 920 Main Campus Dr.Venture II, Suite 300, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
  • Received:2005-01-30 Revised:2005-03-24 Online:2005-10-25 Published:2005-10-25

Abstract: Evaluation of the relationship between forest changes and streamflow has an important role in forest planning and water resource management.Although numerous studies on the subject have been conducted in various countries over the last century,controversies still exist.This is mainly due to the complexities of the relationship and the variations between the studied forest ecosystems.This paper examines both consistence and complexity of the forest-streamflow relations by reviewing the topics including the impacts of forest changes on streamflow,harvesting thresholds and hydrological recovery.The literatures used for this review are all from the paired watershed experiments.Our review shows that a consistent or predictable relationship generally exists when examining annual mean flow.The majority of the paired watershed studies demon-strated that harvesting increases annual mean flow,and reforestation from open land decreases it. The relationship between forest change and the short-duration hydrological variables such as peak and low flows appears more complex and less predictable.This is because many factors including changes in forest vegetation,soil condition,harvesting location,etc.interactively affect peak and low flows.Application of various definitions and analytical methods in streamflow also contributes to the complexities.We further conclude that a systematic approach considering interactions between streamflow and other processes or components(e.g.forest vegetation,soil and climate)is needed for understanding the forest-streamflow relation.The paired watershed approach is generally thought as a reliable method.However,it may offer limited use in evaluating complexity of the forest-streamflow relation if the paired watersheds are treated as the"black boxes".We suggest that combination of the paired watersheds with other process-related approaches should be used for studying the relationship between forest changes and streamflow in the future.

Key words: change of forest, annual runoff, peak flow, low flow, hydrological recovery

CLC Number: 

  • S715