Rehabilitation of a debris-flow prone mountain stream in southwestern China - Strategies, effects and implications

Guo an Yu, He Qing Huang*, Zhaoyin Wang, Gary Brierley, Kang Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rehabilitation of Shengou Creek, a small, steep mountain stream in southwestern China that is prone to debris flows, started more than 30. years ago through an integrated program of engineering applications (check dams and guiding dikes), biological measures (reforestation), and social measures (reducing human disturbance). Small and medium-sized check dams and guiding dikes were constructed on key upper and middle sections of the creek to stabilize hillslopes and channel bed. Meanwhile, Leucaena leucocephala, a drought-tolerant, fast-growing, and highly adaptive plant species, was introduced to promote vegetation recovery in the watershed. The collective community structure of tree, shrub, and herb assemblages in the artificial L. leucocephala forest, which developed after 7. years, enhanced soil structure and drastically reduced soil erosion on hillslopes. Cultivation of steep land was strictly controlled in the basin, and some inhabitants were encouraged to move from upstream areas to downstream towns to reduce disturbance. These integrated measures reduced sediment supply from both hillslopes and upstream channels, preventing sediment-related hazards. The development of natural streambed resistance structures (mainly step-pool systems) and luxuriant riparian vegetation aided channel stability, diversity of stream habitat, and ecological maintenance in the creek. These findings are compared with Jiangjia and Xiaobaini Ravines, two adjacent non-rehabilitated debris-flow streams which have climate and geomorphologic conditions similar to Shengou Creek. Habitat diversity indices, taxa richness, biodiversity, and bio-community indices are much higher in Shengou Creek relative to Jiangjia and Xiaobaini Ravines, attesting to the effectiveness of rehabilitation measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume414-415
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Rehabilitation
  • Riparian vegetation
  • Steep headwater stream
  • Stream ecology
  • Streambed structure

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