Assessing the effectiveness of Sustainable Land Management to reduce soil erosion under climate change

JPC Eekhout and J de Vente

July 8-18, 2019

IUGG General Assembly, Montreal, Canada

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Climate change will strongly affect essential ecosystem services, like the provision of freshwater, soil erosion and flood control. Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices are increasingly promoted to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, but there is lack of evidence at scales most relevant for policy making. We evaluated the effectiveness of SLM in a large Mediterranean catchment where climate change is projected to significantly increase hillslope erosion and reservoir sediment yield. We applied a process-based soil erosion model, coupled to a hydrological model, and assessed 4 climate change scenarios, divided over 2 periods and 2 emission scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). SLM was implemented in 38% of the catchment, for 3 crop types (cereals, tree crops, vineyards) and consisted of reducing tillage frequency and adding organic amendments. After implementation of SLM under climate change, hillslope erosion and reservoir sediment yield are projected to decrease with respect to the historical scenario without SLM. This is mainly a result of a significant reduction in surface runoff. Here we show that large-scale implementation of SLM may be an effective measure to combat the on-site and off-site impact of climate change on soil erosion.