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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 6 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1311-1330, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 22 Jun 2015

Research article | 22 Jun 2015

Forest harvesting is associated with increased landslide activity during an extreme rainstorm on Vancouver Island, Canada

J. N. Goetz1,2, R. H. Guthrie3, and A. Brenning1,2 J. N. Goetz et al.
  • 1University of Waterloo, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Friedrich Schiller University, Department of Geography, Jena, Germany
  • 3SNC-Lavalin, Geohazards and Geomorphology, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Abstract. Safe operations of forest practices in mountainous regions require effective development planning to mitigate hazards posed by landslides. British Columbia, Canada, has for the past 2 decades implemented landslide risk management policies aimed at reducing the impacts of the forestry industry on landslides. Consequently, it is required that timber harvesting sites be evaluated for their potential or existing impacts on terrain stability. Statistical landslide susceptibility modelling can enhance this evaluation by geographically highlighting potential hazardous areas. In addition, these statistical models can also improve our understanding of regional landslide controlling factors. The purpose of this research was to explore the regional effects of forest harvesting activities, topography, precipitation and geology on landslides initiated during an extreme rainfall event in November 2006 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These effects were analyzed with a nonparametric statistical method, the generalized additive model (GAM). Although topography was the strongest predictor of landslide initiation, low density forest interpreted as regrowth areas and proximity to forest service roads were jointly associated with a 6- to 9-fold increase in the odds of landslide initiation, while accounting for other environmental confounders. This result highlights the importance of continuing proper landslide risk management to control the effects of forest practices on landslide initiation.

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