Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Extreme rainfall and forest management

Forests around the planet are under pressure from logging, conversion to plantations and urban development, which can result in extreme flooding. The EPIC FORCE project aimed to mitigate flood damage by investigating how forest management can limit the effects of excessive rainfall and snowmelt.
Extreme rainfall and forest management
EU-funded EPIC FORCE aimed to improve the integrated management of forests and resources at the river basin scale. The initiative concentrated on four Latin American countries that represented a range of humid forest and rainfall/snowmelt regimes with major flood and erosion problems. The countries were also characterised by a lack of integrated water and forest policies.

The project was based on sound science with a focus on extreme rainfall and snowmelt events. Extreme events were defined as significant levels of rainfall that generated floods and caused damage; they did not include low levels of rainfall or lack of precipitation. The consortium linked scientific, management and policy research by modelling the impact of management practices and extreme rainfall on river basins. In addition, scientists developed improved strategies for forest and water management and evidence-based policy recommendations for government agencies, the EU and the World Bank.

A computer model was created that could identify different scales of flood events in temperate and tropical forests and the management response required for the prevention and mitigation of damage. The model was developed using existing state-of-the-art modelling technology and data from the focus areas and investigated the hypothesis that, as the size of the flood peak increases, the effect of land use becomes less important.

Simulations were run for flow and sediment transport at the water catchment scale that included components for modelling vegetation interception and transpiration, snowmelt, different types of flow and the influence of rivers and aquifers. Sediment yield was also modelled and included the input from landslides. EPIC FORCE also studied the management of large woody debris and developed several alternative best practice options with an emphasis on the protection of downstream urban areas.

Guidelines were developed to protect inhabitants from the impact of extreme rainfall and snowmelt events and to provide the best options for the sustainable management of water and soil resources. The management guidelines were based on reviews of current management strategies, best practice, model scenario applications and field studies, and proposed improvements to existing national policies.

A crucial factor in the project’s success was the participation of national forest and water resource agencies, which will greatly benefit from technology developed by EPIC FORCE. In addition, the project has increased understanding of forest ecosystem dynamics (for extreme rainfall events) under pressure from human activities. This will enable more sustainable use of water and forest resources and the efficient use of limited development resources, which will help protect the natural environment and its biodiversity, and local communities.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top