Hydrological effect of vegetation against rainfall-induced landslides

Alejandro Gonzalez Ollauri*, Slobodan B. Mickovski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)
594 Downloads (Pure)


The hydrological effect of vegetation on rainfall-induced landslides has rarely been quantified and its integration into slope stability analysis methods remains a challenge. Our goal was to establish a reproducible, novel framework to evaluate the hydrological effect of vegetation on shallow landslides. This was achieved by accomplishing three objectives: (i) quantification in situ of the hydrological mechanisms by which woody vegetation (i.e. Salix sp.) might impact slope stability under wetting and drying conditions; (ii) to propose a new approach to predict plant-derived matric suctions under drying conditions; and (iii) to evaluate the suitability of the unified effective stress principle and framework (UES) to quantify the hydrological effect of vegetation against landslides. The results revealed that plant water uptake was the main hydrological mechanism contributing to slope stability, as the vegetated slope was, on average, 12.84% drier and had matric suctions three times higher than the fallow slope. The plant-related mechanisms under wetting conditions had a minimal effect on slope stability. The plant aerial parts intercepted up to 26.73% of the rainfall and concentrated a further 10.78% of it around the stem. Our approach successfully predicted the plant-derived matric suctions and UES proved to be adequate for evaluating the hydrological effect of vegetation on landslides. Although the UES framework presented here sets the basis for effectively evaluating the hydrological effect of vegetation on slope stability, it requires knowledge of the specific hydro-mechanical properties of plant-soil composites and this in itself needs further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374–387
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date9 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • hydrology
  • vegetation
  • willow trees
  • matric suction
  • landslides
  • slope stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Materials Science


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