Forest Development in the European Alps and Potential Consequences on Hydrological Regime

  • Christine AlewellEmail author
  • Peter Bebi
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 212)


While forest cover decreased dramatically in the European Alps between the tenth and the nineteenth centuries, considerable reforestation occurred during the last 150 years and is likely to further increase in future. Depending on site conditions, this increased forest cover can protect from soil erosion and slope instability and may decrease flood hazard due to generally larger water storage capacity of forests compared to agricultural land. However, a decrease in sediment production may lead to channel narrowing and incision and thus increase flood risk. Furthermore, climate and land use change may have detrimental effects on soil stability, especially where droughts and heavy rain events will increase and/or at easily accessible areas with intensification of land use. Because of the high spatial variability of forest cover change and related hydrological effects, measures to optimize these effects are most promising on a local or regional level.


Soil Erosion Forest Cover Hydrological Regime Flood Hazard Soil Stability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental GeosciencesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Fedral Institute for ForestSnow and Landscape Research WSLDavosSwitzerland

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