Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3717–3728, 2012
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3717–3728, 2012

Research article 19 Oct 2012

Research article | 19 Oct 2012

Field data collection and analysis of canopy and litter interception in commercial forest plantations in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

H. H. Bulcock and G. P. W. Jewitt H. H. Bulcock and G. P. W. Jewitt
  • School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa

Abstract. It is well accepted that the total evaporation in forested areas is greater than in grasslands, largely due to the differences in the amount of rainfall that is intercepted by the forest canopy and litter and due to higher transpiration rates. However, interception is the least studied of these components of the hydrological cycle. The study aims to measure and quantify the canopy and litter interception by Eucalyptus grandis, Pinus patula and Acacia mearnsii, at the Two Streams research catchment in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa for the three-year period April 2008 to March 2011. The results from this study showed that canopy and litter interception contributed a significant amount of the water evaporated in a forest water balance. The canopy interception by E. grandis, A. mearnsii and P. patula was 14.9%, 27.7% and 21.4% of gross precipitation, respectively, while litter interception was 8.5%, 6.6% and 12.1% of gross precipitation, respectively.