Water Quality: Timber Harvesting

Authored by: C. Rhett Jackson

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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While the chemical, physical, and biological quality of waters draining commercial forestlands is generally quite good, harvesting and planting of trees can temporarily increase water yield and baseflows substantially, increase peak flows moderately, increase nitrate concentrations downstream, potentially introduce additional light and sediment to the streams, and thus alter aquatic communities. The magnitude and duration of these hydrologic and water quality effects vary with environmental setting and management techniques but can be controlled to a large degree by implementing best management practices and sustainability guidelines to protect water quality. Minimization of bare and compacted soil areas and dispersal of road runoff are critical to protecting water quality in commercial forests.

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