Native plants for erosion control in urban river slopes .


Mechanical and structural erosion of soils is produced by the loss of the vegetal cover and the action of rain on unprotected surfaces. Raindrop impact, transport and sediment deposition leads to landslides and slope instability and soil loss. In Costa Rica, water bodies have been negatively impacted by urban development and both water resources and soils have become more vulnerable. This is the case of the Pirro river micro watershed where riverbed vegetation has been replaced by constructions producing erosion problems in its slopes. In order to evaluate how native plants favor sediment control and prevent this sediment from been deposited in the river, eight experimental plots were installed. Four treatments were established: A (Costus pulverulentus Presl), B (Heliconia tortuosa (Griggs) Standl.), C (Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash) and D (control). Sediments were collected weekly during the rainy and transitional seasons. A clear relation between rainfall intensity and sediment production was determined, particularly for intensities higher than 50 mm h-1. Significant differences were also determined between the treatments and the efficiency order was B >A > C >D, with the native plants being the most efficient in terms of sediment control. The use of native plants is recommended for the management and rehabilitation of slopes near urban rivers due to their ecological value and their capability for sediment control.
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