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Soil Erosion Studies in Northern Ethiopia

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Soil erosion is one of the biggest global environmental problems resulting in both on-site and off-site effects. The economic implication of soil erosion is more serious in developing countries because of lack of capacity to cope with it and also to replace lost nutrients. These countries have also high population growth which leads to intensified use of already stressed resources and expansion of production to marginal and fragile lands. Such processes aggravate erosion and productivity declines, resulting in a population-poverty-land degradation cycle.

Rapid population growth, cultivation on steep slopes, clearing of vegetation, and overgrazing are the main factors that accelerate soil erosion in Ethiopia. The annual rate of soil loss in the country is higher than the annual rate of soil formation rate. Annually, Ethiopia losses over 1.5 billion tons of topsoil from the highlands to erosion which could have added about 1.5 million tons of grain to the country’s harvest. This indicates that soil erosion is a very serous threat to food security of people and requires urgent management intervention.

To circumvent the impacts of erosion, it is important to know the severity of the problem and the main controlling factors. Since different portions of the landscape vary in sensitivity to erosion due to differences in their geomorphological, geological, and vegetation attributes, it is also necessary to identify high erosion risk areas in order to plan site-specific management interventions. Depending on the prevailing erosion processes and controlling factors, the efficiency of soil conservation measures may vary. This calls for the assessment of the soil conservation potential of different management practices. This study was conducted in northern Ethiopia in order to assess rates of soil loss, investigate controlling factors, and analyze spatial patterns and management alternatives. Section 5.1 reviews the impacts of soil erosion at global and regional scale. Section 5.2 discusses the magnitude of soil erosion in northern Ethiopia based on reservoir survey and Section 5.3 explores its major determinant factors. Section 5.4 applies soil erosion models to identify high erosion risk areas for targeted management intervention and Section 5.5 simulates the potentials of different land management/soil conservation techniques in reducing soil loss of selected catchments. Section 5.6 summarizes the major findings of the study.

Keywords

  • Soil erosion
  • soil erosion controlling factors
  • hot-spot areas of erosion
  • modeling soil erosion
  • land use/cover-design
  • northern Ethiopia

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Tamene, L., Vlek, P.L.G. (2008). Soil Erosion Studies in Northern Ethiopia. In: Braimoh, A.K., Vlek, P.L.G. (eds) Land Use and Soil Resources. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6778-5_5

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