Milazzo F.1, Fernandez-Habas J.2, Fernandez-Rebollo P.2, Peña A.3 and Vanwalleghem T.1
1Department of Agronomy, ETSIAM, University of Córdoba, Spain; 2Department of Forest Engineering, ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Spain; 3Department of Rural Engineering, ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Spain
Land use change (LUC) is identified as one of the main drivers of soil erosion. However, very little information exists on the relation between land use and erosion over longer time periods and regional scales. We quantified the LUC in southern Spain over 62 years, examining its effect on soil erosion and assessing the mitigation role of permanent grassland (PG). The historical assessment was developed modelling the RUSLE’s C-factor by the Monte Carlo Method (MCM). Future LUC scenarios were developed by a complete conversion of PG to cropland (PC), permanent crop (PP) and forest and natural area (FP). Despite the intensification of agriculture, no significant variation is observed in cumulative erosion at a regional scale. The underlying reasons for this resilience are multifold but can be mainly attributed to the fact that a small proportion of the total surface, 20%, dominates the total erosion, 67%. Potential LUC scenarios illustrate the importance of PG for erosion mitigation, as the CP and PP scenarios show an abrupt increase of regional erosion by 13 and 14%, while FP shows a small reduction of erosion close to 0%. This allows quantifying the erosion mitigation offered by maintaining the PG and should be considered for future agricultural policy.
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