Plant and Soil

, Volume 217, Issue 1–2, pp 39–47 | Cite as

Root strength, growth, and rates of decay: root reinforcement changes of two tree species and their contribution to slope stability

  • Alex Watson
  • Chris Phillips
  • Michael Marden


Information on live root-wood strength, rates of root decay and root growth of both radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) and kanuka (Kunzea ericoides (A. Rich.) Joy Thomps. var. ericoides) are combined to form a generalized conceptual model of changes in nett root reinforcement. The model provides an initial opportunity to rank the plant species having specific below-ground rooting habits that can be used to control erosion, and when linked with extreme flood probability can be used to indicate the risk of a storm likely to cause slope instability in the period between clear-felling and regrowth. Erosion-susceptible slopes planted 1 year after clearfelling in radiata pine at 1250 stems ha-1 regain root site-occupancy in 4.7 years, an interval during which there is an 80% chance of experiencing an extreme flood. Similarly for radiata planted at 800 and 400 stems ha-1, root site-occupancy is regained in 5.6 and 7.5 years, and the probability of occurrence of an extreme event within these periods is 85 and 90%, respectively. For erosion-susceptible slopes on which kanuka has become established, the probability of a significant event within the 2.8 years prior to root site-occupancy is 60%. Slopes felled of radiata pine are potentially more vulnerable to the stresses promoting slope instability, at least in the earlier years.

root decay root growth root reinforcement root site-occupancy root strength slope stability 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Watson
    • 1
  • Chris Phillips
    • 1
  • Michael Marden
    • 2
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchCanterburyNew Zealand FAX No
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchGisborneNew Zealand

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