Geographic information system-based decision support for soil conservation planning in Tajikistan

Bühlmann, Erik; Wolfgramm, Bettina; Maselli, Daniel; Hurni, Hans; Sanginov, Sanginboy; Liniger, Hanspeter (2010). Geographic information system-based decision support for soil conservation planning in Tajikistan. Journal of soil & water conservation, 65(3), pp. 151-159. Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society 10.2489/jswc.65.3.151

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Soil erosion on sloping agricultural land poses a serious problem for the environment, as well as for production. In areas with highly erodible soils, such as those in loess zones, application of soil and water conservation measures is crucial to sustain agricultural yields and to prevent or reduce land degradation. The present study, carried out in Faizabad, Tajikistan, was designed to evaluate the potential of local conservation measures on cropland using a spatial modelling approach to provide decision-making support for the planning of spatially explicit sustainable land use. A sampling design to support comparative analysis between well-conserved units and other field units was established in order to estimate factors that determine water erosion, according to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). Such factor-based approaches allow ready application using a geographic information system (GIS) and facilitate straightforward scenario modelling in areas with limited data resources. The study showed first that assessment of erosion and conservation in an area with inhomogeneous vegetation cover requires the integration of plot-based cover. Plot-based vegetation cover can be effectively derived from high-resolution satellite imagery, providing a useful basis for plot-wise conservation planning. Furthermore, thorough field assessments showed that 25.7% of current total cropland is covered by conservation measures (terracing, agroforestry and perennial herbaceous fodder). Assessment of the effectiveness of these local measures, combined with the RUSLE calculations, revealed that current average soil loss could be reduced through low-cost measures such as contouring (by 11%), fodder plants (by 16%), and drainage ditches (by 53%). More expensive measures such as terracing and agroforestry can reduce erosion by as much as 63% (for agroforestry) and 93% (for agroforestry combined with terracing). Indeed, scenario runs for different levels of tolerable erosion rates showed that more cost-intensive and technologically advanced measures would lead to greater reduction of soil loss. However, given economic conditions in Tajikistan, it seems advisable to support the spread of low-cost and labourextensive measures.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability > Unit Land Systems and Sustainable Land Management (LS-SLM)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Bühlmann, Erik, Wolfgramm, Bettina, Maselli, Daniel, Hurni, Hans, Liniger, Hans Peter


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics




Soil and Water Conservation Society




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:19

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:20

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:




URI: (FactScience: 210922)

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