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Mulching after forest fires

Forest residue mulch is spread immediately after a wildfire in order to prevent soil erosion and reduce overland flow. The mulch is made using chopped tree bark fibre, which decays very slowly and is very useful in cases of low re-growth of natural vegetation.

The increase in ground cover decreases post-fire soil erosion by reducing raindrop impact over the ashes and bare soil, and decreases the runoff amount by increasing water surface storage, decreasing runoff velocity, and increasing infiltration. The mulch provided an initial ground cover of 70 to 80%, and was found to reduce post-fire runoff by 40-50% and soil erosion by 85-90%.

Note: For this SLM technology case, the SPI report on Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change refers to: Prats, S.A., et al. 2012. Effectiveness of forest residue mulching in reducing post-fire runoff and erosion in a pine and a eucalypt plantation in north-central Portugal.

Land use type
Technology group
Soil erosion control
Type of land degradation addressed
Chemical soil deterioration
Soil erosion by water
Water degradation
Mulching after forest fires