Applying erosion damage mapping to asses and quantify off-site effects of soil erosion in Switzerland

Ledermann, Thomas; Herweg, Karl Günter; Liniger, Hanspeter; Schneider, Flurina; Hurni, Hans; Prasuhn, Volker (2010). Applying erosion damage mapping to asses and quantify off-site effects of soil erosion in Switzerland. Land degradation & development, 21(4), pp. 353-366. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 10.1002/ldr.1008

[img] Text
1008_ftp.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (753kB)

In order to fill existing knowledge gaps in the temporal and spatial distribution of soil erosion, its sources and causes, as well as in relation to its off-site impacts, erosion damage mapping of all visible erosion features was carried out at three study sites in Switzerland. The data illustrate that about one-quarter of the cultivated land was affected by water erosion. Observed mean annual soil loss rates are considered rather low (0.7–2.3 t/ha/y) compared to other European countries. However, substantial losses of >70 t/ha were recorded on individual plots.
This paper focuses on the spatial aspects of soil erosion, by observing and comparing the study areas in a 1-year period from October 2005 to October 2006. The analyses illustrate that the sites differ considerably in average soil loss rates, but show similar patterns of off-site effects. In about one-third of the damaged plots an external source of surface runoff upslope contributed to the damage (run-on). Similarly, more than 50 per cent of the soil eroded on arable land deposited downslope on adjacent plots, roads, public/private infrastructure, etc., and 20 per cent of it reached open water bodies. Large amounts of eroded soil which deposit off-site, often related to slope depressions, are considered muddy floods and were frequently observed in Switzerland.
Mapping, in conclusion, helps to sheds light on some of the important challenges of today, in particular: to comprehensively assess socioeconomic and ecological off-site effects of soil erosion, to attribute off-site impacts to on-site causes, and to raise awareness of all stakeholders involved, in order to improve ongoing discussions on policy formulation and implementation at the national and international levels.

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
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:

Herweg, Karl Günter, Liniger, Hans Peter, Schneider, Flurina, Hurni, Hans


900 History > 910 Geography & travel
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics




John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.




Users 124 not found.

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:19

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2023 11:14

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:




URI: (FactScience: 210925)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback