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Rockfall - forest interrelation: Efficiency of the protective function of mountain forest against rockfalls

Forests are multi-functional ecosystems, the sustainable management of which is one of the priorities of the European Union nowadays. Forest managers have a multi-functional perception of forested lands but a major purpose of forests is not taken into account: the protective function against risks of rock fall.

The objective of this project is to develop measures and methods to characterise the efficiency of forest stands against rockfall. More precisely, five specific objectives have been identified:
1) to predict and to quantify rockfalls occurrence and to assess source areas
2) to model the mechanical behaviour of trees and then the ones of stands
3) to couple or chain rockfall models with forest models (mechanical behaviour and growth models) in order to reproduce the mutual interactions between rockfalls and forests
4) to realise virtual experiments in order to appreciate, for a present stand and for a determined rockfall risk, the consequences of different evolution scenarios on its effectiveness against rockfalls
5) to prepare guidelines for forest management in rockfall areas with respect to long-term management.
All the results will be used to develop a Strategic Planning Tool (SPT) dedicated to optimise sustainable management of different types of forest stands with respect to their protective function against rockfall. To achieve these objectives, eight Work Packages are planned. This SPT will be a decision support system, used by forest managers, construction engineers and local authorities associated with land management in mountainous areas

All eight Work Packages were completed. However, the initial concept of the strategic planning tool was modified in order to be more beneficial for the end-user's requirements. Instead of using an electronic platform with different models, a handbook has been produced to help the end-users in their decision-making on a sustainable rockfall mitigation in forested areas.
Data collected during the final year of the project has enabled the consortium to produce the prime scientific mathematical laws for the calculation of:
1) the maximal energy dissipable by a tree during a dynamic impact of a rock on the diameter of the impacted tree
2) the energy dissipation according to the position of the impact on the diameter of the tree.
These formula represent one of the major benefits of the third year.

Classified in FORESTRY

Scientist responsible for the project

2 rue de la papeterie Box 76
38402 Saint Martin d'Hères CEDEX Cedex
France - FR

Phone: +33 4 76 76 28 00
Fax: +33 4 76 51 38 03


Project ID QLRT-1999-31302
Organisation CEMAGREF, Centre National du Machinisme Agricole, du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 January 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 862 897 €
Total EC contribution   1 163 713 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • University of Bern, Switzerland - CH
  • Institute of Torrent and Avalanche Control/University of Agricultural Sciences-Vienna, Austria - AT
  • EUROGEOTECNICA, S.A. - Europroject Group, Spain - ES

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