Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 798–816 | Cite as

The effect of land use change on soil and water quality in northern Iran

  • Yones KhaledianEmail author
  • Farshad Kiani
  • Sohaila Ebrahimi


Rapid urbanization has led to extensive land-use changes, particularly in developing countries. This research is aimed to investigate the role of land use and its effect on soil and water quality in Ziarat watershed focusing on four land uses: forest, pasture, cultivated and urban development. Soil samples were taken from a depth of 0–30 cm on each land use and were analyzed by completely randomized split-plot design in two geographical directions. Results showed that bulk density (BD), electrical conductivity (EC), pH, calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE), and soil particle density (DS) of the soil samples in pastures, cultivated and urban areas increased and the mean weight diameter (MWD), soil porosity (F), organic carbons (OC), total nitrogen (TN), exchangeable cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Na+), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil microbial respirations (SMR) decreased, respectively in comparison with the forest soils. For water quality evaluations, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), electrical conductivity (EC), pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), bicarbonate (HCO3 ), chloride (Cl), total hardness (TH), calcium (Ca2+), potassium (K+), sodium (Na+) and magnesium (Mg2+) were investigated in two areas: Nahrkhoran and Abgir stations. Results showed that the concentration of TDS, EC and HCO3 in Naharkhoran station is higher than that in Abgir station. On the other hand, the concentration of TDS, EC and HCO3 in Abgir station are the relatively higher due to its location. Total hardness had the same trend during the study years except in the last three years; however, TH showed an increase of 25% TH in Naharkhoran for the last two years. Cl, K+ and SAR in Naharkhoran station increased by 61%, 22%, 78% and 56% respectively, in comparison with Abgir station. This study demonstrated that the trend of soil degradation and mismanagement of land use may increase the frequency of urban floods and human health problems.


Deforestation Organic matter loss Soil degradation Soil quality Urbanization Water quality 



analysis of variance


bulk density




calcium carbonate equivalent


cation exchange capacity




coefficient of variation


soil particle density


electrical conductivity


soil porosity








mean weight diameter




soil organic carbon


sodium adsorption ratio


soil microbial respiration




total dissolved solids


total hardness


total nitrogen


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yones Khaledian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Farshad Kiani
    • 1
  • Sohaila Ebrahimi
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Agriculture, Department of Soil ScienceGorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural ResourcesGorganIran

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