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Australian National University (1997)

The effect of fire on runoff and soil erosion in Royal National Park, New South Wales

Zierholz, Christoph

Titre : The effect of fire on runoff and soil erosion in Royal National Park, New South Wales

Auteur : Zierholz, Christoph

Université de soutenance : Australian National University

Grade : Master of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) 1997

Résumé partiel
The January 1994 fires were among the most severe bushfires of this century. Large areas were burned and many lives affected. The extent and severity of the fires evoked a widespread public response. Awareness of the potential scale of bushfires in Australia and the lintitations in our capabilities of managing fire and its impacts on life and property reached a new level. There was also growing public concern about detrimental impacts resulting from the fires on the environment. The fires had also generated interest in the scientific community who realised the opportunity presented by the fires to study ecological and geo1norphological processes activated by the extensive burning of native bushlands. Also, the need for reliable data and information 1n general on the effects of fire in these landscapes and in Australia in general was realised. This study was developed to investigate so1ne effects of the January 1994 bushfires on runoff and soil erosion processes. An area within Royal National Park, approximately 50 km south of Sydney in NSW, Australia was selected for study. The project used a c01nbination of field observation and erosion experi1nents to investigate the generation of runoff and sediment production in an area which was burned by fire of severe intensity. The extent of the fires 1neant that no unburned control site was available for n1easurement of background runoff and erosion rate which is recognised as a major lintitation of this study. Observations carried out during preli1ninary field visits to the study area suggested that there was some sheet erosion occurring on the burned but otherwise undisturbed areas. The soil surface appeared to be resistant to severe degradation by rain- and flow-driven erosion processes. Tracks and trails were showing dan1age by severe erosion and sedin1entation which was attributed to the interception and channelling of sheet flow generated on the burned areas. The presence of a water repellence was noted and observed to be widespread. Several hypotheses concerning processes leading to runoff and erosion were proposed based on these observations which were to be tested by the experimental program.

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