Soil conservation and water retention are important metrics for designating key ecological functional areas and ecological red line (ERL) areas. However, research on the quantitative identification of dominant environmental factors in different ecological red line areas remains relatively inadequate, which is unfavorable for the zone-based management of ecological functional areas. This paper presents a case study of Beijing’s ERL areas. In order to objectively reflect the ecological characteristics of ERL areas in Beijing, which is mainly dominated by mountainous areas, the application of remote sensing data at a high resolution is important for the improvement of model calculation and spatial heterogeneity. Based on multi-source remote sensing data, meteorological and soil observations as well as soil erosion and water yield were calculated using the revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) and integrated valuation of ecosystem services and tradeoffs (InVEST) model. Combining the influencing factors, including slope, precipitation, land use type, vegetation coverage, geomorphological type, and elevation, a quantitative attribution analysis was performed on soil erosion and water yield in Beijing’s ERL areas using the geographical detector. The power of each influencing factor and their interaction factors in explaining the spatial distribution of soil erosion or water yield varied significantly among different ERL areas. Vegetation coverage was the dominant factor affecting soil erosion in Beijing’s ERL areas, explaining greater than 30% of its spatial heterogeneity. Land use type could explain the spatial heterogeneity of water yield more than 60%. In addition, the combination of vegetation coverage and slope was found to significantly enhance the spatial distribution of soil erosion (>55% in various ERL areas). The superposition of land use type and slope explained greater than 70% of the spatial distribution for water yield in ERL areas. The geographical detector results indicated that the high soil erosion risk areas and high water yield areas varied significantly among different ERL areas. Thus, in efforts to enhance ERL protection, focus should be placed on the spatial heterogeneity of soil erosion and water yield in different ERL areas.
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