Case Studies and Review
The role of coarse woody debris in forest aquatic habitats: Implications for management
Article first published online: 29 JUN 2006
Copyright © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 143–166, June 1995
How to Cite
Gurnell, A. M., Gregory, K. J. and Petts, G. E. (1995), The role of coarse woody debris in forest aquatic habitats: Implications for management. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst., 5: 143–166. doi: 10.1002/aqc.3270050206
- Issue published online: 29 JUN 2006
- Article first published online: 29 JUN 2006
- Manuscript Revised: 21 NOV 1994
- Manuscript Received: 12 APR 1994
- 1Throughout the Temperate Forest biogeographical zone, river valleys were once heavily wooded. Fallen trees had a major impact upon river systems by ponding water and storing sediments, and valley floors were characterized by extensive wetlands with networks of minor channels linking to the main channel. Concern for environmental conservation and for the rehabilitation of damaged aquatic ecosystems has led to research on the links between river channel dynamics and vegetation, and an interest in the use of dead wood for environmentally sensitive engineering approaches to river management.
- 2Accumulations of coarse woody debris (CWD) have an impact on the hydrological, hydraulic, sedimentological, morphological and biological characteristics of river channels. These impacts are very significant for the stability and biological productivity of river channels in forested catchments.
- 3As a result of the geomorphological and ecological importance of CWD in river channels in forested catchments, such debris requires careful management. In particular indiscriminate removal of CWD should be avoided.
- 4In the context of commercial forestry, a sequence of linked management options can be employed to control sediment and organic matter transport within river systems and to enhance channel stability and physical habitat diversity. These management options include selective removal of less stable debris, addition of debris to the river where the natural supply is inadequate, the maintenance of buffer strips of riparian trees which can act as a source of CWD, and the active management of woodland buffer strips to provide a wide range of physical habitat characteristics including light, temperature, flow, sediment transport and substrate conditions, thereby promoting high biological diversity within the river environment.