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Environ Manage. 2012 Dec;50(6):1219-33. doi: 10.1007/s00267-012-9952-0. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

Integrated watershed management as an effective approach to curb land degradation: a case study of the Enabered watershed in northern Ethiopia.

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Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, Tottori, Japan.


Integrated watershed management (IWM) is an advanced land-management approach that has been widely implemented in Tigray region of northern Ethiopia since 2004. The general aim of this study was to analyze to what extent the IWM approach is effective in curbing land degradation in the fragile drylands of the Enabered watershed in Tigray. This study assessed the impacts of IWM on (1) land-use and land-cover change and (2) the decrease of runoff loss and soil loss due to sheet and rill erosion and gully erosion. The watershed characteristics and implemented IWM measures were mapped in the field. Land use and land cover, runoff, and soil losses were compared before (2004) and after (2009) the IWM interventions. Plantations and exclosures increased significantly at the expense of grazing lands and bushland. Runoff and sheet and rill erosion decreased by 27 and 89 %, respectively, and gully channels were reclaimed. The decrease in sheet and rill erosion resulted from changes in crop cover (48 %) and conservation-practice (29 %) factors, as represented by C and P of the Universal Soil Loss Equation. The results showed that land degradation has been curbed as a result of IWM intervention. A key factor to this success was the effectiveness of the implementation approach for the main IWM components, including the participation of the local community in the form of a contribution of 20 days of free labor. Based on these results, IWM may be implemented in other regions with similar environmental and socioeconomic situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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