Articles | Volume 15, issue 6
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. Goetz, R. H. Guthrie, and A. Brenning

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.

Final-revised paper