Predicting the impact of logging activities on soil erosion and water quality in steep, forested tropical islands

Wenger, Amelia S., Atkinson, Scott, Santini, Talitha, Falinski, Kim, Hutley, Nicholas, Albert, Simon, Horning, Ned, Watson, James E. M., Mumby, Peter J. and Jupiter, Stacy D. (2018) Predicting the impact of logging activities on soil erosion and water quality in steep, forested tropical islands. Environmental Research Letters, 13 4: . doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aab9eb

Author Wenger, Amelia S.
Atkinson, Scott
Santini, Talitha
Falinski, Kim
Hutley, Nicholas
Albert, Simon
Horning, Ned
Watson, James E. M.
Mumby, Peter J.
Jupiter, Stacy D.
Title Predicting the impact of logging activities on soil erosion and water quality in steep, forested tropical islands
Journal name Environmental Research Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1748-9326
Publication date 2018-04-01
Year available 2018
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/aab9eb
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 13
Issue 4
Total pages 12
Place of publication Bristol, United Kingdom
Publisher Institute of Physics Publishing
Language eng
Abstract Increasing development in tropical regions provides new economic opportunities that can improve livelihoods, but it threatens the functional integrity and ecosystem services provided by terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems when conducted unsustainably. Given the small size of many islands, communities may have limited opportunities to replace loss and damage to the natural resources upon which they depend for ecosystem service provisioning, thus heightening the need for proactive, integrated management. This study quantifies the effectiveness of management strategies, stipulated in logging codes-of-practice, at minimizing soil erosion and sediment runoff as clearing extent increases, using Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands as a case study. Further, we examine the ability of erosion reduction strategies to maintain sustainable soil erosion rates and reduce potential downstream impacts to drinking water and environmental water quality. We found that increasing land clearing-even with best management strategies in place-led to unsustainable levels of soil erosion and significant impacts to downstream water quality, compromising the integrity of the land for future agricultural uses, consistent access to clean drinking water, and important downstream ecosystems. Our results demonstrate that in order to facilitate sustainable development, logging codes of practice must explicitly link their soil erosion reduction strategies to soil erosion and downstream water quality thresholds, otherwise they will be ineffective at minimizing the impacts of logging activities. The approach taken here to explicitly examine soil erosion rates and downstream water quality in relation to best management practices and increasing land clearing should be applied more broadly across a range of ecosystems to inform decision-making about the socioeconomic and environmental trade-offs associated with logging, and other types of land use change.
Keyword logging
soil erosion
water quality guidelines
best management practices
sustainable development
sediment runoff
logging codes of practice
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID LP150100934
Institutional Status UQ

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