Paired catchment studies have been used as a method to assess the effects of vegetation removal (timber harvesting) on streamflow responses including lowflows and peakflows, but particularly annual water yield. Paired catchment studies in the United States reporting on the effects of timber harvesting on annual water yields were compiled. In general, changes in annual water yield from forest cover reduction (or catchment area harvested) of less than 20% could not be determined by hydrometric or streamflow measurement methods. The catchment studies were discriminated by hydrologic region, defined by temperature and precipitation regimes. This regionalization suggested that as little as 15% of the catchment area (or basal area) could be harvested for a measurable increase in annual water yield at the catchment level in the Rocky Mountain region as compared with 50% in the Central Plains, although system responses are variable. Given changing world-wide objectives for forest land management, hydrologists will be asked to develop monitoring programs to assess the effects of multiple and temporally and spatially distributed land use activities on water resources. Less catchment area will be disturbed, thus monitoring programs must be carefully designed to obtain useful information. The concept of hydrologic recovery, i.e. return to pretreatment condition tends to be based on annual water yield, but also needs the evaluation of streamflow generation and routing mechanisms including lowflows and peakflows when compared with the pretreatment condition.
Journal of Hydrology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 1996
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