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Forests and surface water eutrophication and sedimentation Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn, Dr Michael Bruen, Dr Ted Farrell, Dr Jan- Robert Baars, Dr Robert Cruikshanks,

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Presentation on theme: "Forests and surface water eutrophication and sedimentation Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn, Dr Michael Bruen, Dr Ted Farrell, Dr Jan- Robert Baars, Dr Robert Cruikshanks,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Forests and surface water eutrophication and sedimentation Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn, Dr Michael Bruen, Dr Ted Farrell, Dr Jan- Robert Baars, Dr Robert Cruikshanks, Dr Ronan Matson, Mr James Johnson Dr Simon Harrison, Dr Stephen Hutton, Prof. John O’Halloran, Dr Guillaume Juhel, Mr Paul Phelan Mr Tad Kirakowski University College Cork University College Dublin

2 Introduction Conifer afforestation of catchments is known to pose a risk to the chemical and biological integrity of receiving waters: - Low pH (mid and mature phase) - High sediment loading (planting and harvesting) - High concentrations of plant nutrients and other dissolved and particulate substances (planting and harvesting) - Low light and temperature (mature phase) Although all these effects have been documented at local scales, there has been few attempts to assess the wider scale risk of commercial conifer afforestation to stream water quality.

3 The impact of a particular plantation will depend on many factors including: - Geology, geomorphology and soil type. - Small scale ‘random’ factors such as the nature of a particular planting or felling operation, rainfall patterns, water drainage from a site.

4 Research question: What is the risk posed by afforestation to receiving waters? - Assess the relative impact of forestry on water quality, in relation to other land uses. - Effective mitigation measures for current and future plantations

5 Sampling 200+ streams draining upland catchments across the Republic were sampled three times in : Sampling was restricted to 1st & 2nd order upland streams ‘Forest’ sites were streams that flowed through conifer plantations ‘Control’ sites were streams that flowed through neighbouring unforested moorland Forested catchments were either mature plantations without felling or mature plantations with felling Catchments were chosen in peat and podsol/lithosol (poorly drained mineral soil) catchments

6 Chemical parameters: Water samples taken 3x from each stream. Comprehensive range of parameters analysed, including plant nutrients, heavy metals, DOC, suspended solids, pH, alkalinity. Sediments Sediment collected using a modified Surber sampler. Sample sieved at two fractions; coarse ( μm) and fine (50-250μm), dried and weighed. Macroinvertebrates: 3 multi-habitat kick samples taken from each stream on one occasion. Diatoms: Diatoms scraped from stone surfaces taken from each stream in summer.

7 Sampling Locations 101Peat catchment streams 88 Podsolic lithosolic streams

8 Results – water chemistry

9 Mean water chemistry parameters (1) Peat catchments Podsol lithosol catchments

10 Peat catchments Podsol lithosol catchments Mean water chemistry parameters (2)

11 Mean DOC concentration in streams vs percentage catchment felled within last 5 years % catchment felled

12 Mean total ammonia concentration in streams vs percentage catchment felled within last 5 years % catchment felled

13 Mean total phosphorus in streams vs percentage catchment felled within last 5 years % catchment felled

14 Draft European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2008: these define ‘high’ and ‘good’ water quality status according to a suite of chemical and biological parameters: Mean MRP (mg P/l) High status = ≤ mg P/L Good status = ≥ ≤ mg P/l Failed status = >0.035 mg P/l Mean Ammonia (mg N/L) High status = ≤ mg N/L Good status = ≥ ≤ mg N/l Failed status = > mg P/l Criteria for impact assessment:

15 Phosphorus water quality status of streams in data set Impact assessment Phosphorus (SRP)

16 Total Ammonia water quality status of streams for the different catchment soil types Impact assessment Total Ammonia

17 Results - Macroinvertebrates

18 Small Stream Risk Scores Peat catchments Podsol lithosol catchments

19 Invertebrate metrics Peat catchments Podsol lithosol catchments

20 Trophic Diatom Index TDI

21 Conclusions  Clear impacts of forestry operations on stream water chemistry and sediment bedload.  Elevated levels of key eutrophication and sedimentation parameters seen in streams draining peat catchments, but not mineral-soil podsol lithosol catchments.  High percentage of streams draining peat catchments subject to clearfelling fail water chemistry standards.  Benthic macroinvertebrate and diatom metrics reflect reduced water quality in streams draining forests planted in peatsoil catchments.

22 ..Don’t plant or re-plant conifer trees on peat!


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