Japan developed large areas of coniferous plantations for timber production between the 1950s and 1970s; however, forestry practices such as thinning, pruning, and harvesting in most of the plantations have declined since the 1980s. Researchers speculated that reduced forestry practices could reduce run-off and therefore available water resources. As a countermeasure to this potential risk, many local governments have introduced local taxes to stimulate forestry practices in the plantations. However, no studies have presented evidence for decreased annual run-off and/or low flow in watersheds where forestry practices have declined. As a starting point for assessing this risk, this study examined potential changes in the annual run-off and low flow in the Terauchi watershed. A large area of this watershed was covered with coniferous plantations. We first surveyed the annual investment in forestry operations and the number of forest owners in the city of Amagi. (Note that Amagi includes the Terauchi watershed.) Both decreased during the period 1979-2007, indicating reduced forestry practices. The frequency distribution of plantation tree ages in the watershed also suggested reduced forestry practices. After excluding the effect of precipitation, we examined potential changes in the annual run-off and low flow during the period 1979-2007. We did not observe significant decreases in the annual run-off and low flow during the period. Thus, the risk of decreased water resources might be less than expected, and countermeasures to the risk should be reconsidered.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology