Forests play an important role in determining hydrological processes in the basin:

  • They seasonally stabilize river flows through their complex structure, fostering infiltration and evapotranspiration.
  • Through infiltration, they support groundwater recharge, which is slowly released over a prolonged period.
  • Under given hydro-climatic conditions, they can reduce the total water yield from the catchment due to higher evapo-transpiration.
  • Riparian forests strengthen the resistance of river banks against erosion.
  • Tree roots stabilize slopes and protect soil against erosion.

The regulating effects of forests have certain limitations and depend mostly on structural complexity, the size and types of forests, in combination with depth and structure of soil cover and the antecedent soil moisture conditions in the catchment. Large scale or extreme flood events, in terms of flood peaks are, however, not significantly influenced by the absence or presence of forest cover. 





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Figure adapted from: Natural Resources Conservation Service