An experimental study of the effect of Acacia mearnsii (black wattle trees) on streamflow in the Sand River, Eastern Cape

Beyers, Gregory John (1999) An experimental study of the effect of Acacia mearnsii (black wattle trees) on streamflow in the Sand River, Eastern Cape. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the effect of Acacia mearnsii on streamflow in the Eastern Cape. There is a need for data on the localised effects of removing alien trees from the riparian zones within the Fynbos Biome. Fynbos catchments throughout the Western and Eastern Cape yield large quantities of good quality water which is an essential resource in the region. To convince local land owners to manage their riparian zones, small scale experimental results will prove invaluable to assure them of the immediate advantages for themselves and for downstream water users. Three permanent weirs were built 500 m apart to monitor the effect of removing A. mearnsii on streamflow in the Sand River, Eastern Cape. Consecutive weirs allowed for the comparison of streamflow between a cleared and uncleared section of the river without significant differences in riparian conditions, channel morphology and vegetation densities. A site survey confirmed comparable densities of A. mearnsii in both sections. A sample of trees was weighed and a relationship was found between diameter at breast height and above ground wet biomass. Between the first two weirs, 2.5 ha of riparian zone was cleared amounting to approximately 160tlha. Streamflow was monitored from the 10th of January 1996 to the 9th of September 1996. The average streamflow reduction for the duration of the experiment was 15.1 m3!hal day or 551 mm per annum. Initially, after a period of above average rainfall, streamflow was augmented by discharge from the riparian zone but as conditions dried out, there was a net uptake of water with the highest average uptake of 23. 7m3 !hal day in June. A comparison between weather conditions and streamflow reduction indicated there is a complex relationship, with evidence of A. mearnsii exhibiting control of water loss during dry conditions. Acacia mearnsii trees in the riparian zone have been shown to cause significant streamflow reduction. Permanent weirs were found to be appropriate for this type of study. There is a need for further research on the effect of alien trees in riparian zones around South Africa as there is potential for significant increases in streamflow.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Wattles, Acacia mearnsii, Riparian zones, Water, Channel morphology, Vegetation density, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Sand River, Stream flow, Weirs
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Geography
ID Code:2845
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:22 May 2012 09:00
Last Modified:22 May 2012 09:00
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