Identification of vulnerable areas for gully erosion under different scenarios of land abandonment in Southeast Spain

J.P. Lesschen, K. Kok, P.H. Verburg, L.H. Cammeraat

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95 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abandonment of agricultural land is one of the main changes in Mediterranean land use. To mitigate runoff and erosion from abandoned land, it is necessary to identify locations that are vulnerable to erosion as a result of land abandonment. The objective of our study was to identify vulnerable areas for gully erosion using different scenarios of land abandonment in Southeast Spain. The study area was the Carcavo basin, a semi-arid catchment in the province of Murcia (Southeast Spain). A preliminary field survey confirmed the assumption that abandoned fields have more gully erosion compared to cultivated fields. This can be explained by the quicker concentration of runoff on abandoned land due to crust formation and reduced surface storage capacity. Next we simulated the spatial dynamics of land abandonment with a spatially explicit land use change model for the period 2004 to 2015 for four different land use change scenarios. The results of the simulation were used to identify vulnerable areas for gully erosion by a simple GIS-model based on the controlling factors of gully erosion. The potentially vulnerable areas for gully erosion increased for the different scenarios ranging from 18 ha to 176 ha. Most of the vulnerable areas are located around channel heads or along channel walls. The combination of more gully erosion on abandoned fields and an expected increase of land abandonment are potentially a big problem in relation to land degradation and reservoir sedimentation. The identification of vulnerable areas enables soil conservationists and engineers to mitigate gully erosion by applying preventive conservation practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-121
JournalCatena
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • agricultural terraces
  • farmland abandonment
  • semiarid environment
  • spanish pyrenees
  • sediment yield
  • mountain areas
  • ne spain
  • runoff
  • consequences
  • systems

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