Coupled forest growth-hydrology modelling as an instrument for the assessment of effects of forest management on hydrology in forested catchments
- Northwest German Forest Research Station, Göttingen, Germany
Abstract. The type and intensity of forest management directly influences regional catchment hydrology. Future forest management must optimise the effects of its practices to achieve sustainable management. With scenario analysis of forestry practices, the effects of different forest utilisation strategies on the hydrology of forested catchments can be temporally and spatially quantified.
The approach adopted in this study necessitated the development of an interactive system for the spatially distributed modelling of hydrology in relation to forest stand development. Consequently, a forest growth model was used to simulate stand development assuming various forest management activities. Selected simulated forest growth parameters were entered into the hydrological model to simulate water fluxes under different conditions of forest structure. The approach enables the spatially differentiated quantification of changes in the water regime (e.g. increased evapotranspiration).
The results of hydrological simulations in the study area, the Oker catchment (northern Harz Mountains), show that forests contribute to the protection of water systems because they have a balancing effect on the hydrological regime. As scenario simulations also suggest, however, forestry practices can also lead to substantial changes in water budgets of forested catchments. The preservation of the hydrological services of forests requires a sustainable and long-term forest conversion on the basis of current management directives for near natural silviculture. Management strategies on basis of moderate harvesting regimes are preferred because of their limited impact on the water budget.