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Fire, logging, and debris disposal effects on soil and water in northern coniferous forests

Posted date: November 30, 2018
Publication Year: 
Authors: Debyle, Norbert, V.
Document type: Other Documents


Debyle, Norbert, V. 1976. Fire, logging, and debris disposal effects on soil and water in northern coniferous forests. Reprinted from: International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Div. 1, Proceedings XVI IUFRO World Congr. Oslo, Norway. U.S. Government Printing Office. 201–212.


Many sera1 northern coniferous forest types are dependent upon periodic wildfire for their perpetuation. Man partially mimics the role of wildfire by clearcut logging of these forests and often by subsequent burning of the logging debris. Mineral soil is exposed and conditions are provided for forest regeneration.

Impacts on the environment sometimes are associated with these sudden disturbances. Most obvious, and best documented, are increased soil erosion, channel cutting, and siltation of streams. Some more subtle impacts are: decreased evapotranspiration and increased streamflow, increased insolation and altered microclimate, induced water repellency of soils by fire, changes in the nutrient cycling processes, and flushes of dissolved materials out of the system and into the aquatic environment. Most subtle and difficult to measure is the possihility of long-term site quality changes.

Particularly during the past decade there has been unprecedented concern about these impacts. This concern has resulted in much research, some of which is summarized and interpreted in this paper. An explanation is given that shows why, under some conditions, clearcutting or fire has severe impacts on the environment and why, under others. the impacts are minimal or not wen detectable. The variables of soils, geology, topography, climate, and forest type are considered.