Hillslope soil erosion and mobility in pine plantations and native deciduous forest in the coastal range of south‐Central Chile
Significant areas of Latin America, and especially of Chile, have been forested with forest plantations to provide timber and fiber and to decrease soil erosion after deforestation. Despite their potential contribution to reducing erosion processes, the magnitude of this decline has not been adequately assessed. In this study, we estimated soil loss and mobility for one year on steep hillslopes using the traditional erosion‐pin approach at five micro‐catchments planted with Pinus radiata with different stand ages and compared them to an adjacent secondary broadleaf Nothofagus sp. native forest. Annual net soil loss (ASL) positively correlated with cumulative rainfall (R2 = .49, p < .001). ASL averaged 65.03 ± 9.8 mg ha−1 yr−1, with the lowest ASL in the natural forest with 21.4 ± 3.1 mg ha−1 yr−1 and the highest in one of the 1‐year‐old plantation micro‐catchments (88.9 ± 9.3 mg ha−1 yr−1). ASL under plantation stands of different ages displayed no significant differences. All areas showed similar net soil loss index values, averaging 83.0 ± 1%, suggesting that most of the sediment left the hillslope. The RUSLE model predicted ASL moderately well across all sites and conditions (0.41, p = .018), but it tends to underestimate ASL, particularly for native forests. On average, soils on hilly terrain under plantation forest may suffer losses up to four times greater than natural forests. The latter stresses the need to improve our understanding of erosive processes that may be still active under planted forest, and to better assess the effect of management practices on soil erosion, particularly on previously highly degraded and erodible soils.
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