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Quantitative Assessment of Soil Erosion Based on CSLE and the 2010 National Soil Erosion Survey at Regional Scale in Yunnan Province of China

Renewable Resources Division, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basins, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100048, China
Research Center of Soil and Water Conservation of the Ministry of Water Resources, Beijing 100048, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3252;
Received: 6 May 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Risk Assessment and Management)
PDF [3541 KB, uploaded 13 June 2019]


Regional soil loss assessment is the critical method of incorporating soil erosion into decision-making associated with land resources management and soil conservation planning. However, data availability has limited its application for mountainous areas. To obtain a clear understanding of soil erosion in Yunnan, a pixel-based estimation was employed to quantify soil erosion rate and the benefits of soil conservation measures based on Chinese Soil Loss Equation (CSLE) and data collected in the national soil erosion survey. Results showed that 38.77% of the land was being eroded at an erosion rate higher than the soil loss tolerance, the average soil erosion rate was found to be 12.46 t∙ha−1∙yr−1, resulting in a total soil loss of 0.47 Gt annually. Higher erosion rates mostly occurred in the downstream areas of the major rivers as compared to upstream areas, especially for the southwest agricultural regions. Rain-fed cropland suffered the most severe soil erosion, with a mean erosion rate of 47.69 t∙ha−1∙yr−1 and an erosion ratio of 64.24%. Lands with a permanent cover (forest, shrub, and grassland) were mostly characterized by erosion rates an order of magnitude lower than those from rain-fed cropland, except for erosion from sparse woods, which was noticeable and should not be underestimated. Soil loss from arable land, woodland and grassland accounted for 52.24%, 35.65% and 11.71% of the total soil loss, respectively. We also found significant regional differences in erosion rates and a close relationship between erosion and soil conservation measures adopted. The CSLE estimates did not compare well with qualitative estimates from the National Soil Erosion Database of China (NSED-C) and only 47.77% of the territory fell within the same erosion intensity for the two approaches. However, the CSLE estimates were consistent with the results from a national survey and local assessments under experimental plots. By advocating of soil conservation measures and converting slope cropland into grass/forest and terraced field, policy interventions during 2006–2010 have reduced soil erosion on rain-fed cropland by 20% in soil erosion rate and 32% in total soil loss compared to the local assessments. The quantitative CSLE method provides a reliable estimation, due to the consideration of erosion control measures and is potentially transferable to other mountainous areas as a robust approach for rapid assessment of sheet and rill erosion. View Full-Text
Keywords: spatial quantification; regional soil loss assessment; sampling survey; CSLE; soil conservation measures spatial quantification; regional soil loss assessment; sampling survey; CSLE; soil conservation measures

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Chen, G.; Zhang, Z.; Guo, Q.; Wang, X.; Wen, Q. Quantitative Assessment of Soil Erosion Based on CSLE and the 2010 National Soil Erosion Survey at Regional Scale in Yunnan Province of China. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3252.

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