Human-Environment Interactions

Land use change and soil erosion in the Maotiao River watershed of Guizhou Province

  • 1. Department of Land Resources and Management, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China;
    2. Chongqing Geomatics Center, Chongqing 401121, China;
    3. School of Management, Central University for Nationality, Beijing 100081, China
Xu Yueqing (1972-), specialized in land use/cover change and land use planning. E-mail:

Received date: 2010-12-07

  Revised date: 2011-06-20

  Online published: 2011-10-03

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171088; No.40701091; Chinese Universities Scientific Fund, No.2011JS162; Ministry of Land and Resources Public Service Research Fund, No. 201011006-3


Due to the extremely poor soil cover, a low soil-forming rate, and inappropriate intensive land use, soil erosion is a serious problem in Guizhou Province, which is located in the centre of the karst areas of Southwest China. In order to bring soil erosion under control and restore environment, the Chinese Government has initiated a serious of ecological rehabilitation projects such as the Grain-for-Green Programme and Natural Forest Protection Program and brought about tremendous influences on land-use change and soil erosion in Guizhou Province. This paper explored the relationship between land use and soil erosion in the Maotiao River watershed, a typical agricultural area with severe soil erosion in central Guizhou Province. In this study, we analyzed the spatio-temporal dynamic change of land-use type in Maotiao River watershed from 1973 to 2007 using Landsat MSS image in 1973, Landsat TM data in 1990 and 2007. Soil erosion change characteristics from 1973 to 2007, and soil loss among different land-use types were examined by integrating the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) with a GIS environment. The results indicate that changes in land use within the watershed have significantly affected soil erosion. From 1973 to 1990, dry farmland and rocky desertified land significantly increased. In contrast, shrubby land, other forestland and grassland significantly decreased, which caused accelerated soil erosion in the study area. This trend was reversed from 1990 to 2007 with an increased area of land-use types for ecological use owing to the implementation of environmental protection programs. Soil erosion also significantly varied among land-use types. Erosion was most serious in dry farmland and the lightest in paddy field. Dry farmland with a gradient of 6°-25° was the major contributor to soil erosion, and conservation practices should be taken in these areas. The results of this study provide useful information for decision makers and planners to take sustainable land use management and soil conservation measures in the area.

Cite this article

XU Yueqing, LUO Ding, PENG Jian . Land use change and soil erosion in the Maotiao River watershed of Guizhou Province[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2011 , 21(6) : 1138 -1152 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-011-0906-x


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