Land use and soil erosion in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River: Some socio-economic considerations on China's Grain-for-Green Programme

Long, H.L., Heilig, G.K., Wang, J., Li, X.B., Luo, M., Wu, X.Q., & Zhang, M. (2006). Land use and soil erosion in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River: Some socio-economic considerations on China's Grain-for-Green Programme. Land Degradation and Development 17 (6) 589-603. 10.1002/ldr.736.

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Soil erosion in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in China is a major concern and the Central Government has initiated the Grain-for-Green Programme to convert farmland to forests and grassland to improve the environment. This paper analyses the relationship between land use and soil erosion in Zhongjiang, a typical agricultural county of Sichuan Province located in areas with severe soil erosion in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. In our analysis, we use the ArcGIS spatial analysis module with detailed land-use data as well as data on slope conditions and soil erosion. Our research shows that the most serious soil erosion is occurring on agricultural land with a slope of 10∼25 degrees. Both farmland and permanent crops are affected by soil erosion, with almost the same percentage of soil erosion for corresponding slope conditions. Farmland with soil erosion accounts for 86·2 per cent of the total eroded agricultural land. In the farmland with soil erosion, 22·5 per cent have a slope of < 5 degrees, 20·3 per cent have a slope of 5∼10 degrees, and 57·1 per cent have a slope of > 10 degrees. On gentle slopes with less than 5 degrees inclination, some 6 per cent of the farmland had strong (5000∼8000 t km−2 y−1) or very strong (8000∼15000 t km−2 y−1) erosion. However, on steep slopes of more than 25 degrees, strong or very strong erosion was reported for more than 42 per cent of the farmland. These numbers explain why the task of soil and water conservation should be focused on the prevention of soil erosion on farmland with steep or very steep slopes. A Feasibility Index is developed and integrated socio-economic assessment on the feasibility of improving sloping farmland in 56 townships and towns is carried out. Finally, to ensure the success of the Grain-for-Green Programme, countermeasures to improve sloping farmland and control soil erosion are proposed according to the values of the Feasibility Index in the townships and towns. These include: (1) to terrace sloping farmland on a large scale and to convert farmland with a slope of over 25 degrees to forests or grassland; (2) to develop ecological agriculture combined with improving the sloping farmland and constructing prime farmland and to pay more attention to improving the technology for irrigation and cultivation techniques; and (3) to carry out soil conservation on steep-sloping farmland using suggested techniques. In addition, improving ecosystems and the inhabited environment through yard and garden construction for households is also an effective way to prevent soil erosion.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Sustainable Rural Development (SRD)
Bibliographic Reference: Land Degradation and Development; 17:589-603 [2006]
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Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:19
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:38

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