David Scott

Associate Professor

Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences
Office: SCI 314
Phone: 250.807.8755
Email: david.scott@ubc.ca

Research Summary

Hydrological effects of forest management and land use change; the effects of wildfire on hydrology and erosion; the effects of fast-growing timber plantations on stream flow (water yield and low flows); analysis of paired catchment experiments.

Courses & Teaching

Soil science; land-use hydrology; environmental assessment. Specifically: EESC 456/GEOG 466 Soil Science; EESC/GEOG 205 Introduction to Hydrology; EESC 101 Environmental Science; GEOG 316 Geography of Natural Hazards.


Dave Scott is a forest hydrologist with a general interest in the hydrological effects of forest management and land use change. Particular interests are the effects of wildfire on hydrology and erosion, and the effects of fast-growing timber plantations on streamflow (water yield and low flows). Much of his research has involved analysis of long-term, afforested catchment experiments in South Africa (including those that burned), and developing general prediction models based on these analyses.

Dave worked for the South African Forestry Research Institute at the Jonkershoek Forestry Research Centre and the CSIR in Stellenbosch between 1986 and 2001. He moved to the Okanagan from South Africa at the end of 2001. He was appointed to an endowed research chair in watershed management at Okanagan University College, funded by Forest Renewal British Columbia. His new research program in British Columbia looks at the effects of wildfire on soils, hydrology and erosion, and the study of residence time of snowmelt water in headwater catchments, using conservative tracers.

Dave’s personal interests include field hockey, soccer, cricket, rambling, wine, gardening, woodwork & folk music. In 1999 he was the winner of the Zonnebloem National Winetaster of the Year Competition in South Africa. He coaches (field) hockey in the interior of BC.


PhD, Hydrology, University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), South Africa
MSc, Forestry, University of Montana
BSc (Honours), Forestry, University of Stellenbosch

Research Interests & Projects

Testing the H60 concept in the Interior Watershed Assessment Procedure by process hydrology studies

A four-year research project funded by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range through the Forest Science Program of Forest Investment Account and the Okanagan Innovative Forestry Society.

The H60 is a concept used in the Interior Watershed Assessment Procedure (IWAP; MoF 1999) by which the upper altitudinal zone within a watershed is weighted for its assumed contribution to peak flows.  The approach assumes that there is a direct and immediate link between snowmelt and surface flow, there being little lag in delivery of water from the snowpack to the stream.  However, work with stable isotopic tracers in water, namely deuterium and oxygen-18 (18O) in other part of the world, have demonstrated that there may be a considerable storage capacity within catchments, and long lags between the entry of water into the soil and its emergence as part of streamflow.  This project uses tracers and water chemistry to test some of the assumptions in the H60 concept. It aims to determine the location in the watershed that makes the dominant contribution to the water in the peak hydrograph by using chemical means.  The key uncertainty being studied is the lag between snow melt and water entering the stream channel.

Evaluation of fire site rehabilitation methods in terms of controlling erosion and sedimentation

A three-year research project sponsored by by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range through the Forest Science Program of Forest Investment Account.

Flooding and soil erosion are two of the hazardous consequences of wildfires, and are of particular concern in the wildland/urban interface. This study examines the effectiveness of post-fire rehabilitation measures in reducing soil losses after the wildfires of 2003 in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Bark mulch, straw mulch, needle cast and grass seeding are the treatments being studied.  Sediment yield off hill-slope plots is measured with the use of silt fences and related to rain events.

Characterization of Fire-Induced Water Repellent Soils in the Southern Interior of BC

A three-year research project sponsored by NSERC Special Research Opportunity (see also the section on Current graduate student)

This project aims to study the following aspects of fire-induced water repellency in the Southern Interior of British Columbia.

  1. The extent and severity of fire-induced water repellency in soils of sites burned in the wildfires in the southern interior of BC during the summer of 2003.
  2. Relate water repellency to potential environmental control variables such as vegetation type, soil characteristics, elevation and moisture regime of site, in order to be able to predict the risk of fire-induced repellency developing on different sites.
  3. Measure the effect of fire on soil erodibility, aggregate stability and soil organic matter content.
  4. Measure the recovery of soil wettability with time after the burn, and determine the seasonal re-occurrence pattern of repellency and its relationship to soil wetness.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Google Scholar

Scott, David F and F. W. Prinsloo, 2008.  The longer-term effects of pine and eucalypt plantations on streamflow. Water Resources Research VOL. 44, XXX, doi:10.1029/2007WR006781, 2008

S. H. Doerr, C. J. Ritsema, L. W. Dekker, D. F. Scott, D. Carter, 2007.  Water repellence of soils: new insights and emerging research needs.  Hydrological Processes, 21(17): 2223-2228. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6762

Scott, D.F., M.P. Curran, P.R. Robichaud, and J.W. Wagenbrenner. 2008. Soil Erosion After  Forest Fire. Chapter 6, In: Cerdà, A and P Robichaud, Restoration Strategies after Forest Fires. Science Publishers, Inc., Enfield, New Hampshire, USA.  In Press.

Curran, M.P. and D.F.Scott. 2008.  Fire Landscapes in Canada: How to Restore or Prevent Them. Chaper 17 In: Cerda, A and P Robichaud, Restoration Strategies  after Forest Fires. Science Publishers, Inc., Enfield, New Hampshire, USA. In Press

Scott DF, Bruijnzeel LA, Mackensen J (2004) The hydrological and soil impacts of forestation in the tropics. In: Bonell M, Bruijnzeel LA (eds), Forests, Water and People in the Humid Tropics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 622-651.

 Moore, RD and DF Scott, (2005).  Camp Creek revisited: effects of forest harvesting on streamflow in a medium-
sized, snowmelt-dominated catchment.  Accepted by Canadian Water Resources Journal 30: 331-344.

 Scott, David F, 2005.  On the hydrology of industrial timber plantations.  {Invited commentary} Hydrological Processes 19: 4203-4206.

 Scott, David F., LA. (Sampurno) Bruijnzeel, Rob Vertessy and Ian R. Calder, 2004.  Forest hydrology: impacts of forest plantations on streamflow, in “The Encyclopedia of Forest Sciences” Edited by J. Burley, J. Evans and J.A. Youngquist.  (ISBN (Set): 0-12-145160-7)  Oxford, Elsevier.

 Scott, David F, Bruijnzeel, LA, and Mackensen, J, 2004.  The hydrological and soil impacts of forestation in the tropics. In: Bonell M, Bruijnzeel LA (eds), Forests, Water and People in the Humid Tropics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (in press, to appear in 2004).

 Gush, MB, Scott, DF, Jewitt, GPW, Schulze, RE, Hallowes, LA and Görgens, AHM, 2002.  A new approach to modeling streamflow reductions resulting from commercial afforestation in South Africa.  Southern African Forestry Journal 196: 27-36.

 Midgley, JJ, Scott, DF, and Harris, C, 2001.  How do we know how much groundwater is stored in Southwestern Cape mountains?  South African Journal of Science 97: 285-286.

 Van Wilgen, BW and Scott, DF, 2001.  Managing fires on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa: dealing with the inevitable.  Journal of Mediterranean Ecology  2: 197-208.

 Scott, David F, 2000.  Soil wettability in forested catchments in South Africa as measured by different methods and as affected by vegetation cover and soil characteristics.  Journal of Hydrology 231/232: 87-104.

 Le Maitre, DC, Scott, DF and Colvin, C, 2000.  Information on interactions between groundwater and vegetation relevant to South African conditions: a review.  In Sililo et al. (eds) Groundwater: Past achievements and future challenges.  Proc. of the XXX IAH Congress on Groundwater, AA Balkema, Rotterdam.

 Scott, David F, 1999.  Managing riparian zone vegetation to sustain streamflow: results of paired catchment experiments in South Africa.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 29(7): 1149-1157.

 Prinsloo, FW and Scott, David F, 1999.  Streamflow responses to the clearing of alien invasive trees from riparian zones at three sites in the Western Cape Province.  S. African Forestry Journal 185: 1-7.

 Le Maitre, DC, Scott, David F and Colvin C, 1999.  A review of information on interactions between vegetation and groundwater.  Water SA. 25(2): 137-152.

 Scott, David F, Le Maitre, DC and Fairbanks, DHK, 1998.  Forestry and streamflow reductions in South Africa: A reference system for assessing extent and distribution.  Water SA 24(3): 187 – 199.

 Scott, David F, Versfeld, DB and Lesch, W, 1998.  Erosion and sediment yield in relation to afforestation and fire in the mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa.  S.Afr. Geographical Journal 80: 52-29.

 Scott, DF and Smith, RE, 1997.  Preliminary empirical models to predict reductions in annual and low flows resulting from afforestation.  Water SA 23: 135-140.

 Scott, DF, 1997.  The contrasting effects of fire and clearfelling on the hydrology of a small catchment.  Hydrological Processes 11: 543 – 555.

 Scott, DF and Lesch, W, 1997. Streamflow responses to afforestation with Eucalyptus grandis and Pinus patula and to felling in the Mokobulaan experimental catchments, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.  Journal of Hydrology, 199: 360-377.

 Lesch, W and Scott, David F, 1997. The response in water yield to the thinning of Pinus radiata, Pinus patula and Eucalyptus grandis plantations.  Forest Ecology and Management, 99: 295-307.


Project: Predicting the risk of wildfire-induced water repellency in soils of southern interior forest watersheds.



Apologies, but no results were found.