Predicting soil erosion risk at the Alqueva dam watershed

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Ferreira, Vera ; Panagopoulos, Thomas (2012)
  • Subject: Soil Erosion; Land-use; Geostatistic; RUSLE; Geographic Information System
    • jel: jel:Q24 | jel:Q01 | jel:Q15

Soil erosion is serious economic and environmental concern. Assessing soil erosion risk in the Alqueva dam watershed is urgently needed to conserve soil and water resources and prevent the accelerated dam siltation, taking into account the possible land-use changes, due to tourism development, intensification of irrigated farming and biomass production, as well as climate change. A comprehensive methodology that integrates Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with geostatistical techniques was adopted to study different land-use and management scenarios. The main objective of this study stage is to determine the soil erosion vulnerability of an agro-silvo pastoral system. The resultant soil erosion map shows an average of 14.1 t/ha/ year, with serious erosion risk (higher than 50 t/ha/year) in 4.3% of area. The highest values are associated mainly to high slopes and low vegetation. The final prediction maps for soil erosion and for each factor considered, can be used as a solid base to create a Decision Support System so as to provide specific procedures for decision-makers, promoting for sustainability of the ecosystems, reducing the risk of erosion and consequently increase lifetime of dam, under various land use and management scenarios
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