Quelles propriétés racinaires et quelles espèces-outils pour la stabilisation des points chauds de dégradation en Chine du Sud ?

Abstract : China is currently facing serious environmental issues and is listed among the countries that contribute most to pollution and destruction of the global environment. Particularly, Southern China is naturally prone to landslides because of unfavourable tectonic, climatic and anthropogenic conditions. Since the late 1990s, the Chinese government has implemented policies of large-scale reforestation, but the question of the most suitable species is still pending. The introduction of this thesis presents the different types of landslides, the context in Southern China and what eco-engineering means, in order to clarify the boundaries within which this work is situated. Thus, this study (i) limits itself to the study of superficial landslides, (ii) fits into the requirement scheme of low-cost solutions using local plant species, and (iii) focuses on the root, plant and hotspot degradation scales. Within those geographical, sociological, political and scientific frameworks, this thesis aims to answer the following scientific question: which species and root architectures are the most efficient to stabilize the steep slopes in Southern China? To answer this question, field data (in Southern China), laboratory experiments (in France) and the formulation of concepts are mobilized. The results are organized into two chapters. The first chapter identifies a panel of relevant and nonredundant traits assessing a given species effectiveness in slope stabilization, and then draws on that panel to select the most efficient Chinese species. The second chapter raises the question of the effectiveness of the presence of roots to stabilize slopes, first in terms of mechanical processes, then in terms of hydraulic processes. Finally, the discussion addresses the limitations of that work and suggests new avenues of research. Root traits relevant to assessing the root effectiveness to soil stabilization are maximum tensile stress and strain, nitrogen concentration as well as concentration in water-soluble sugars. The most efficient species among nine pioneer species measured on the Chinese slopes are Pueraria stricta, a legume native from Southeast Asia which plantation happened from reforestation programs, and Artemisia codonocephala, a spontaneous Asteraceae native from Southern China. Recommendations regarding the nine species are presented for the use of their characteristics in eco-engineering. From the mechanical as well as the hydraulic viewpoint, the conjunction of structural roots and fine roots is determinant. Structural roots alone are not optimal and may even bring up lines of weakness. Specifically, for both mechanical and hydric reasons, structural roots are particularly efficient when they grow downslope. Fine roots alone are not optimal either, as they can produce local areas of weakness which, if they are close, can participate in the triggering of a landslide. The branching organization is also particularly important: dense throughout the root profile, branches improve the mechanical stability. Oriented downslope, branching forks improve underground water flow and thus hydraulic stability. The limits of this thesis point out the difficulty to choose indicators and to follow their evolution over time. Another limitation lies in the difficulty to assess the relationship between roots and soil, as the only root resistance is not sufficient to prevent soil from sliding. Finally, the spatial integration of root properties remains challenging. In conclusion, this thesis contributes to improve the knowledge of the plant material available in the mountains of Southern China. Its results will optimize eco-engineering actions related to slope stability. It also upgrades the knowledge about processes at stake between roots and their environment during a landslide
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Murielle Ghestem. Quelles propriétés racinaires et quelles espèces-outils pour la stabilisation des points chauds de dégradation en Chine du Sud ?. Sciences de la Terre. AgroParisTech, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012AGPT0052⟩. ⟨pastel-00855792⟩

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