Assessment of land cover and land use change impact on soil loss in a tropical catchment by using multitemporal SPOT-5 satellite images and Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation model

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Journal Article
Land Degradation and Development, 2018, 29 (10), pp. 3440 - 3455
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Soil erosion is a common land degradation problem and has disastrous impacts on natural ecosystems and human life. Therefore, researchers have focused on detection of land cover–land use changes (LCLUC) with respect to monitoring and mitigating the potential soil erosion. This article aims to appraise the relationship between LCLUC and soil erosion in the Cameron Highlands (Malaysia) by using multitemporal satellite images and ancillary data. Land clearing and heavy rainfall events in the study area has resulted in increased soil loss. Moreover, unsustainable development and agricultural practices, mismanagement, and lack of land use policies increase the soil erosion rate. Hence, the main contribution of this study lies in the application of appropriate land management practices in relation to water erosion through identification and prediction of the impacts of LCLUC on the spatial distribution of potential soil loss in a region susceptible to natural hazards such as landslide. The LCLUC distribution within the study area was mapped for 2005, 2010, and 2015 by using SPOT-5 temporal satellite imagery and object-based image classification. A projected land cover–land use map was also produced for 2025 through integration of Markov chain and cellular automata models. An empirical-based approach (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) coupled with geographic information system was applied to measure soil loss and susceptibility to erosion over the study area for four periods (2005, 2010, 2015, and 2025). The model comprises five parameters, namely, rainfall factor, soil erodibility, topographical factor, conservation factor, and support practice factor. Results exhibited that the average amount of soil loss increased by 31.77 t ha−1 yr−1 from 2005 to 2015 and was predicted to dramatically increase in 2025. The results generated from this research recommends that awareness of spatial and temporal patterns of high soil loss risk areas can help deploy site-specific soil conservation measures and erosion mitigation processes and prevent unsystematic deforestation and urbanization by the authorities.
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