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Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE)-Predicted Soil Loss for Harvesting Regimes in Appalachian Hardwoods

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Soil erosion from forest harvesting is a major environmental concern. While there has been research comparing soil erosion on clearcut regeneration harvests with that on uncut forests, there has been little focus on the differences among common silvicultural harvests. Forest certification standards that are currently being evaluated for adoption across the country often encourage uneven-aged systems over even-aged or two-aged systems. We estimated soil loss using the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) for forest land on five harvested treatments in the southern Appalachians. Treatments included a clearcut, leave-tree harvest, shelterwood, group selection, and uncut control. Results predicted that the group selection would have approximately 10 tons/ac more soil loss over a 100 yr rotation than the other harvested treatments. The higher rate was primarily from skid trails when the treatment was reentered for harvesting. These results should be considered when weighing the benefits of uneven-aged silviculture over even-aged or two-aged silviculture.
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Keywords: Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE); silvicultural system; soil erosion; timber harvests

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Department of Forestry (0324), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 228 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, 24061

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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