, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 0027-0035

Protective effect of floor cover against soil erosion on steep slopes forested with Chamaecyparis obtusa (hinoki) and other species

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 We evaluated the protective effects of floor cover against soil erosion in three types of forest located on steep slopes under a humid climate: 22- and 34-year-old Chamaecyparis obtusa (hinoki), 34-year-old Cryptomeria japonica (sugi), and 62-year-old Pinus densiflora (red pine) stands. We measured sediment transport rates (sediment mass passing through one meter of contour width per millimeter of rainfall), using sediment traps, before and after removing floor cover. Raindrop splash erosion was dominant in the experimental stands. Floor cover percentage (FCP) during the preremoval stage varied from 50% to 100% among the four stands, and sediment transport rates ranged from 0.0079 to 1.7 g m−1 mm−1. The rates increased to 1.5–5.6 g m−1 mm−1 immediately after removing floor cover, and remained high throughout the experiment. The presence of physical cover near the ground has a crucial effect on sediment transport on forested slopes. The protective effect ratio (the ratio of the sediment transport rate in a control plot to that in the removal plot) in a young hinoki stand, in which the FCP decreased markedly, was 0.3 at most, which is close to the rate for bare ground. The protective effect ratio in the red pine stand was ≤0.003. We concluded that the protective effect of floor cover in undisturbed forests in Japan differs by over two orders of magnitude, based on comparisons with previous studies.