Land use/land cover change effect on soil erosion and sediment delivery in the Winike watershed, Omo Gibe Basin, Ethiopia

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Aug 1;728:138776. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138776. Epub 2020 Apr 19.


Information on soil loss and sediment export is essential to identify hotspots of soil erosion to inform conservation interventions in a given watershed. This study investigates the dynamics of soil loss and sediment export associated with land-use/land cover changes and identifying soil loss hotspot areas in the Winike watershed of the Omo-Gibe Basin of Ethiopia. Spatial data collected from satellite images, topographic maps, meteorological and soil data were analyzed. The land-use types in the study area were categorized into six: cultivated land, woodland, forest, grazing, shrubland, and bare land. The Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) of the sediment delivery ratio (SDR) model was used based on the analysis of land use/land cover and RUSLE factors. The results show that total soil loss increased from 774.86 thousand tons in 1988 to 951.21 thousand tons in 2018 while the corresponding sediment export increased by 3.85 thousand tons for the same period. These were subsequently investigated in each land-use type. Cultivated fields generated the highest soil erosion rate, increasing from 10.02 t/ha/year in 1988 to 43.48 t/ha/year in 2018 when compared with the grazing, shrub, forest, wood land and bare land-use types. This corresponds with the expansion of the cultivated area. This is logical as the correlation between soil loss and sediment delivery and expansion of cultivated area is highly significant (p < 0.001). Sub-watershed six (SW-6) showed the highest soil loss (23.17 t/ha/year) while sub-watershed two (SW- 2) has the lowest soil loss (5.54 t/ha/year). This is because SW-2 is situated in the lower reaches of the watershed under dense vegetation cover experiencing less erosion. The findings on the erosion hotspots presented in this study allow prioritizing the segments of the watershed that need immediate application of improved management interventions and informed decision-making processes.

Keywords: InVEST model; Omo Gibe Basin; Sediment delivery; Soil loss; Winike watershed.