iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Method for the analysis of the relationship between forest cover and streamflow in watersheds

Fabrina Teixeira Ferraz (1)   , Sidney Sara Zanetti (2), Roberto Avelino Cecílio (2), Dulcinéia De Carvalho (1), Francielle Rodrigues De Oliveira (2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 4, Pages 344-352 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3536-014
Published: Jul 21, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

The relationship between forest cover and streamflow of watersheds is complex and still controversial in the scientific literature. To investigate suchrelationship we propose an alternative method which requires the following information for each watershed: percentage of forest cover, annual rainfall, average specific streamflow (qave), and minimum mean specific streamflow in seven consecutive days (q7). As a case study, we analyzed a dataset composed by 25 watersheds located in the Espírito Santo State (ESS), Brazil. We conducted simple and multiple linear regression analyses as well as partial correlation analysis between the above parameters. To reduce the effect of heterogeneity of environmental factors, watersheds with similar characteristics in term of rainfall, drainage area, and both rainfall and drainage area were grouped by cluster analysis, and the above regression and correlation analysis was repeated on each group. Our results using the whole dataset showed that forest cover has a negative relationship with watershed streamflow. The analysis of homogeneous groups of watersheds showed that the average minimum streamflow during seven days (q7) was more sensitive to the presence of forest cover, showing a negative relationship, especially in watersheds with low annual rainfall, while in areas with high precipitation, the annual rainfall showed a strong influence on the hydrological responses of watersheds, masking the effect of forest cover. The proposed method may be easily extended to other areas, and allowsthe inclusion of other relevant environmental variables according to specific cases.


Forests, Cluster Analysis, Water Regime, Land Use, Watershed Management

Authors’ address

Fabrina Teixeira Ferraz 0000-0001-9518-3978
Dulcinéia De Carvalho 0000-0001-9447-4538
Department of Forest Science, Federal University of Lavras - UFLA, 1001 Doutor Sylvio Menicucci Ave. Lavras, Minas Gerais (Brazil)
Sidney Sara Zanetti 0000-0001-9135-3925
Roberto Avelino Cecílio 0000-0003-2894-2481
Francielle Rodrigues De Oliveira 0000-0002-7135-432X
Federal University of Espírito Santo - UFES, 316 Governador Lindenbergue Ave. Jerônimo Monteiro, Espírito Santo (Brazil)

Corresponding author

Fabrina Teixeira Ferraz


Ferraz FT, Zanetti SS, Cecílio RA, De Carvalho D, De Oliveira FR (2021). Method for the analysis of the relationship between forest cover and streamflow in watersheds. iForest 14: 344-352. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3536-014

Academic Editor

Raffaele Lafortezza

Paper history

Received: May 28, 2020
Accepted: May 24, 2021

First online: Jul 21, 2021
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2021
Publication Time: 1.93 months

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