Quantifying the effect of ecological restoration on soil erosion in China's Loess Plateau region: an application of the MMF approach

Environ Manage. 2010 Mar;45(3):476-87. doi: 10.1007/s00267-009-9369-6. Epub 2009 Sep 16.


Land degradation due to erosion is one of the most serious environmental problems in China. To reduce land degradation, the government has taken a number of conservation and restoration measures, including the Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP), which was launched in 1999. A logical question is whether these measures have reduced soil erosion at the regional level. The objective of this article is to answer this question by assessing soil erosion dynamics in the Zuli River basin in the Loess Plateau of China from 1999 to 2006. The MMF (Morgan, Morgan and Finney) model was used to simulate changes in runoff and soil erosion over the period of time during which ecological restoration projects were implemented. Some model variables were derived from remotely sensed images to provide improved land surface representation. With an overall accuracy rate of 0.67, our simulations show that increased ground vegetation cover, especially in forestlands and grasslands, has reduced soil erosion by 38.8% on average from 1999 to 2006. During the same time period, however, the change in rainfall pattern has caused a 13.1% +/- 4.3% increase in soil erosion, resulting in a net 25.7% +/- 8.5% reduction in soil erosion. This suggests that China's various ecological restoration efforts have been effective in reducing soil loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • China
  • Computer Simulation
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Soil*
  • Time Factors
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water Movements*


  • Soil
  • Water