Modelling of root reinforcement and erosion control by ‘Veronese’ poplar on pastoral hill country in New Zealand

Schwarz, Massimiliano; Phillips, C.; Marden, M.; McIvor, I. R.; Douglas, G. B.; Watson, A. (2016). Modelling of root reinforcement and erosion control by ‘Veronese’ poplar on pastoral hill country in New Zealand New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, 46(1) Springer 10.1186/s40490-016-0060-4

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Background The control of erosion processes is an important issue worldwide. In New Zealand, previous studies have shown the benefits of reforestation or bioengineering measures to control erosion. The impetus for this work focuses on linking recent research to the needs of practitioners by formulating quantitative guidelines for planning and evaluation of ground bioengineering stabilisation measures. Methods Two root distribution datasets of ‘Veronese’ poplar (Populus deltoides x nigra) were used to calibrate a root distribution model for application on single root systems and to interacting root systems at the hillslope scale. The root distribution model results were then used for slope stability calculations in order to quantitatively evaluate the mechanical stabilisation effects of spaced trees on pastoral hillslopes. Results This study shows that root distribution data are important inputs for quantifying root reinforcement at the hillslope scale, and that root distribution strongly depends on local environmental conditions and on the tree planting density. The results also show that the combination of soil mechanical properties (soil angle of internal friction and cohesion) and topographic conditions (slope inclination) are the major parameters to define how much root reinforcement is needed to stabilise a specific slope, and thus the spacing of the trees to achieve this. Conclusions For the worst scenarios, effective root reinforcement (>2 kPa) is reached for tree spacing ranging from 2500 stems per hectare (sph) for 0.1 m stem diameter at breast height (DBH) to 300 sph for 0.3 m stem DBH. In ideal growing conditions, tree spacing less than 100 sph is sufficient for stem DBH greater than 0.15 m. New quantitative information gained from this study can provide a basis for evaluating planting strategies using poplar trees for erosion control on pastoral hill country in New Zealand.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Multifunctional Forest Management


Schwarz, Massimiliano0000-0003-4652-8102;
Phillips, C.;
Marden, M.;
McIvor, I. R.;
Douglas, G. B. and
Watson, A.


S Agriculture > SD Forestry








Simon Lutz

Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2019 09:59

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:





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