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Deforestation Effects on Soil Erosion in the Lake Kivu Basin, D.R. Congo-Rwanda

Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Lay Adventists of Kigali, P.O. 6392, Kigali, Rwanda
College of Life Science, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Brian D. Strahm and Timothy A. Martin
Forests 2016, 7(11), 281;
Received: 29 August 2016 / Revised: 4 November 2016 / Accepted: 9 November 2016 / Published: 17 November 2016
Deforestation and natural grassland conversion to agricultural land use constitute a major threat to soil and water conservation. This study aimed at assessing the status of land cover and land use (LCLU) in the Lake Kivu basin, and its related impacts in terms of soil erosion by water using the Universal Soil Erosion Equation (USLE) model. The results indicated that the Lake Kivu basin is exposed to soil erosion risk with a mean annual rate of 30 t·ha−1, and only 33% of the total non-water area is associated with a tolerable soil loss (≤10 t·ha−1·year−1). Due to both natural factors (abundant tropical precipitation and steep slopes) and anthropogenic activities without prior appropriate conservation practices, all land-use types—namely settlement, cropland, forestland, and grassland—are exposed to a severe mean erosion rate of 41 t·ha−1·year−1, 31 t·ha−1·year−1, 28 t·ha−1·year−1, and 20 t·ha−1·year−1, respectively. The cropland that occupied 74% of the non-water area in 2015 was the major contributor (75%) to the total annual soil loss in the Lake Kivu basin. This study showed that conservation practices in the cropland cells would result in a mean erosion rate of 7 t·ha−1·year−1, 18 t·ha−1·year−1, and 35 t·ha−1·year−1 for terracing, strip-cropping, and contouring, respectively. The adoption of terracing would be the best conservation practice, among others, that could reduce soil erosion in cropland areas up to about 23%. The erosion risk minimization in forests and grasslands implies an increase in overstorey canopy and understorey vegetation, and control of human activities such as fires, mining, soil compaction from domestic animals grazing, and so on. Soil erosion control in settled areas suggests, among other things, the revegetation of construction sites, establishment of outlet channels, rainfall water harvesting systems, and pervious paving block with grass. View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation practices; erosion tolerance; GIS; land use; rainfall; slope effect; USLE conservation practices; erosion tolerance; GIS; land use; rainfall; slope effect; USLE
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Karamage, F.; Shao, H.; Chen, X.; Ndayisaba, F.; Nahayo, L.; Kayiranga, A.; Omifolaji, J.K.; Liu, T.; Zhang, C. Deforestation Effects on Soil Erosion in the Lake Kivu Basin, D.R. Congo-Rwanda. Forests 2016, 7, 281.

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