Linking forest cover to water quality: A multivariate analysis of large monitoring datasets

Delphine Brogna, Adrien Michez, Sander Jacobs, Marc Dufrêne, Caroline Vincke, Nicolas Dendoncker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Forested catchments are generally assumed to provide higher quality water. However, this hypothesis must be validated in various contexts as interactions between multiple land use and land cover (LULC) types, ecological variables and water quality variables render this relationship highly complex. This paper applies a straightforward multivariate approach on a typical large monitoring dataset of a highly managed and densely populated area (Wallonia, Belgium; 10-year dataset), quantifying forest cover effects on nine physico-chemical water quality variables. Results show that forest cover explains about one third of the variability of water quality and is positively correlated with higher quality water. When controlling for spatial autocorrelation, forest cover still explains 9% of water quality. Unlike needle-leaved forest cover, broad-leaved forest cover presents an independent effect from ecological variables and explains independently 4.8% of water quality variability while it shares 5.8% with cropland cover. This study demonstrates clear independent effects of forest cover on water quality, and presents a method to tease out independent LULC effects from typical large multivariate monitoring datasets. Further research on explanatory variables, spatial distribution effects and water quality datasets could lead to effective strategies to mitigate pollution and reach legal targets.

LanguageEnglish
Article number176
JournalWater
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Fingerprint

Water Quality
forest cover
multivariate analysis
Water quality
Multivariate Analysis
water quality
monitoring
water
Monitoring
land cover
Land use
land use
multiple land use
Datasets
Forests
forested catchment
forested watersheds
Spatial Analysis
broad-leaved forest
Belgium

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Belgium
  • Forests
  • Land cover
  • Land use
  • Monitoring network
  • Physico-chemical water quality
  • Redundancy analysis
  • Wallonia
  • Water framework directive

Cite this

Brogna, Delphine ; Michez, Adrien ; Jacobs, Sander ; Dufrêne, Marc ; Vincke, Caroline ; Dendoncker, Nicolas. / Linking forest cover to water quality : A multivariate analysis of large monitoring datasets. In: Water. 2017 ; Vol. 9, No. 3.
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Linking forest cover to water quality : A multivariate analysis of large monitoring datasets. / Brogna, Delphine; Michez, Adrien; Jacobs, Sander; Dufrêne, Marc; Vincke, Caroline; Dendoncker, Nicolas.

In: Water, Vol. 9, No. 3, 176, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Michez,Adrien

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