Mechanical resistance of different tree species to rockfall in the French Alps

  • Alexia Stokes
  • Franck Salin
  • Adzo Dzifa Kokutse
  • Stéphane Berthier
  • Henri Jeannin
  • Shaun Mochan
  • Luuk Dorren
  • Nomessi Kokutse
  • Murad Abd. Ghani
  • Thierry Fourcaud
Part of the Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences book series (DPSS, volume 103)

Abstract

In order to determine the mechanical resistance of several forest tree species to rockfall, an inventory of the type of damage sustained in an active rockfall corridor was carried out in the French Alps. The diameter, spatial position and type of damage incurred were measured in 423 trees. Only 5% of trees had sustained damage above a height of 1.3 m and in damaged trees, 66% of broken or uprooted trees were conifers. Larger trees were more likely to be wounded or dead than smaller trees, although the size of the wounds was relatively smaller in larger trees. The species with the least proportion of damage through stem breakage, uprooting or wounding was European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). Winching tests were carried out on two conifer species, Norway spruce (Picea abies L.) and Silver fir (Abies alba Mill.), as well as European beech, in order to verify the hypothesis that beech was highly resistant to rockfall and that conifers were more susceptible to uprooting or stem breakage. Nineteen trees were winched downhill and the force necessary to cause failure was measured. The energy (Efail) required to break or uproot a tree was then calculated. Most Silver fir trees failed in the stem and Norway spruce usually failed through uprooting. European beech was either uprooted or broke in the stem and was twice as resistant to failure as Silver fir, and three times more resistant than Norway spruce. Efail was strongly related to stem diameter in European beech only, and was significantly higher in this species compared to Norway spruce. Results suggest that European beech would be a better species to plant with regards to protection against rockfall. Nevertheless, all types of different abiotic stresses on any particular alpine site should be considered by the forest manager, as planting only broadleaf species may compromise the protecting capacity of the forest, e.g., in the case of snow avalanches.

Keywords

Conifer Species Stem Base European Beech Rock Avalanche Snow Avalanche 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexia Stokes
    • 1
    • 5
  • Franck Salin
    • 1
  • Adzo Dzifa Kokutse
    • 1
  • Stéphane Berthier
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henri Jeannin
    • 1
  • Shaun Mochan
    • 2
  • Luuk Dorren
    • 3
  • Nomessi Kokutse
    • 1
  • Murad Abd. Ghani
    • 1
  • Thierry Fourcaud
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire du Rhéologie du Bois de BordeauxMixed unit: CNRS/INRA/Université Bordeaux ICestas cedexFrance
  2. 2.Forest ResearchMidlothianScotland
  3. 3.Cemagref GrenobleSt. Martin d’Hères cedexFrance
  4. 4.AMAP, CIRAD, TA40/PS2Boulevard de la LirondeMontpellier Cedex 5France
  5. 5.Laboratoire du Rhéologie du Bois de BordeauxMixed unit: CNRS/INRA/Université Bordeaux ICestas cedexFrance

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