Mapping soil erosion hotspots and assessing the potential impacts of land management practices in the highlands of Ethiopia | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
September 2017
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An enormous effort is underway in Ethiopia to address soil erosion and restore overall land productivity. Modelling and participatory approaches can be used to delineate erosion hotspots, plan site- and context-specific interventions and assess their impacts. In this study, we employed a modelling interface developed based on the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation adjusted by the sediment delivery ratio to map the spatial distribution of net soil loss and identify priority areas of intervention. Using the modelling interface, we also simulated the potential impacts of different soil and water conservation measures in reducing net soil loss. Model predictions showed that net soil loss in the study area ranges between 0.4 and 88 t ha− 1 yr− 1 with an average of 12 t ha− 1 yr− 1. The dominant soil erosion hotspots were associated with steep slopes, gullies, communal grazing and cultivated areas. The average soil loss observed in this study is higher than the tolerable soil loss rate estimated for the highland of Ethiopia. The scenario analysis results showed that targeting hotspot areas where soil loss exceeds 10 t ha− 1 yr− 1 could reduce net soil loss to the tolerable limit (< 2 t ha− 1 yr− 1). The spatial distribution of soil loss and the sediment yield reduction potential of different options provided essential information to guide prioritization and targeting. In addition, the results can help promoting awareness within the local community of the severity of the soil erosion problem and the potential of management interventions. Future work should include cost-benefit and tradeoff analyses of the various management options for achieving a given level of erosion reduction.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Tamene, Lulseged
Adimassu, Zenebe
Ellison, James
Yaekob, Tesfaye
Woldearegay, Kifle
Mekonnen, Kindu
Thorne, Peter J.
Le, Quang Bao

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The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, scientific research organization focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. It is headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with regional offices across Asia and Africa. IWMI works in partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector to develop scalable agricultural water management solutions that have a real impact on poverty reduction, food security and ecosystem health. IWMI is a member of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.


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CIAT’s staff includes about 200 scientists. Supported by a wide array of donors, the Center collaborates with hundreds of partners to conduct high-quality research and translate the results into development impact. A Board of Trustees provides oversight of CIAT’s research and financial management.


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ILRI's strategy 2013-2022 was approved in December 2012. It emerged from a wide processof consultation and engagement.

ILRI envisions... a world where all people have access to enough food and livelihood options to fulfil their potential.

ILRI’s mission is... to improve food and nutritional security and to reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock—ensuring better lives through livestock.

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CGIAR is the only worldwide partnership addressing agricultural research for development, whose work contributes to the global effort to tackle poverty, hunger and major nutrition imbalances, and environmental degradation.

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