Influences of management of Southern forests on water quantity and qualityThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Water is a key output of southern forests and is critical to other processes, functions, and values of forest ecosystems. This chapter synthesizes published literature about the effects of forest management practices on water quantity and water quality across the Southern United States region. We evaluate the influences of forest management at different temporal and spatial scales, and we recognize the heterogeneity of forest ecosystems; e.g., wetlands and uplands in the South. Hydrologic models that were developed specifically for southeastern forests were reviewed. We conclude that the greatest streamwater yield or ground-water table changes occur immediately following forest land disturbances. The overall water-quantity impact of silvicultural operations on wetlands is much less than in areas having greater relief and shallow soils. Water quality from forested watersheds is the best when compared to that from other land uses. Silvicultural practices in the South caused relatively minor water-quality problems. Roads without best management practices (BMP) are the major source of sedimentation. Studies on the cumulative effects of land use changes on water quality are lacking. Exiting computer modeling tools are useful but limited in describing the forest hydrologic processes and providing practical guidance in designing forest BMPs. Recommendations to future research on forestry BMPs and forest hydrology in general are proposed.