Current issue: 57(2)
Under compilation: 57(3)
The tree canopy adsorbs part of the rainfall falling on a forest, therefore only part of it reaches the soil. This report presents results concerning interception of precipitation and groundwater level in forests of varying canopy cover. The study belongs to a larger survey on afforestation of drained treeless bogs. The rainfall was measured daily in the open fields and in the adjacent forests. The forests, mainly Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) dominated, were divided by the canopy cover into five classes from over dense to sparsely stocked.
The results show that in a dense, tall Norway spruce stand, light rainfall can almost entirely be adsorbed by the canopy. The heavier the rainfall, the larger proportion of it reaches the ground. Only 30% of a 5 mm rainfall reaches the ground, while 80% of a 20 mm rainfall reaches the ground. Interception of precipitation decreases gradually when the density of the forest decreases. Canopy of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and birch (Betula sp.) stands of corresponding density adsorb less rainfall than Norway spruce canopy. Groundwater level was higher in treeless areas than in areas covered with forest. Widescale clear cuttings should, therefore, be considered carefully in forest areas that are prone to become peaty.
In southern Lapland, 70% of drained peatland forests have a peat layer thickness of less than one metre. On these sites, the question is how the subsoil under the peat affects groundwater level and thus timber harvesting. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the peat layer (<1 m) and subsoil on the groundwater level and its variation during the growing season (non-frost) by modelling the factors affecting water level. In sandy soils, the groundwater level rose by 20 cm when the peat layer thickness increased from 20 to 70 cm. In silty soils the effect of the peat thickness on groundwater remained minor. When the subsoil was sand or coarser, the groundwater level was usually deeper than when it was silty or finer. The effect of stand volume (m–3 ha–1) on the groundwater level was rather weak albeit significant. The model explained a significant part of the groundwater surface variation, with a marginal coefficient of determination (R2) of 68%. It seems that the rutting of roads could be avoided in late summer if the precipitation is remarkably lower during that period, or if the subsoil is sandy with thin peat layer on top of it. Because the groundwater level affects the load-bearing capacity of timber-harvesting machinery, it is important to study this issue in more detail in the future.