The forest-streamflow relationship in China: a 40-year retrospect
The relationship between forests and streamflows has long been an important research interest in China. The purpose of this paper is to summarize progress and lessons learned from the forest-streamflow studies over the past four decades in China. To better measure the research gaps between China and other parts of the world, a brief global review on the findings from paired watershed studies over the past 100 years was also provided. In China, forest management shifted in the later 1990s from timber harvesting to forest restoration. Forest-streamflow research was accordingly changed from assessing harvesting impacts to evaluating both harvesting and forestation effects. Over the past four decades, Chinese forest hydrology research has grown substantially. Significant progress has been made on measuring individual processes, but little solid, long-term data were available to assess the relationship between forest changes and streamflows because of an absence of standard paired watersheds. In addition, misuse of statistical analyses was often found in the literature. A unique opportunity exists in China to study the forestation effects on streamflow as several large-scale forestation programs are being implemented. Such an opportunity should include a robust paired watershed design under an integrated watershed ecosystem framework to avoid repeating the lessons already learned. Recommendations on future forest-streamflow research directions in China are provided.