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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Crop Science Research Laboratory » Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314823

Title: Characteristics of water erosion and conservation practice in arid regions of Central Asia: Xinjiang Province, China as an example

item ZHANG, WENTAI - Xinjiang Agricultural University
item ZHOU, JIANQIN - Xinjiang Agricultural University
item Feng, Gary
item WEINDORF, DAVID - Texas Tech University
item HU, GUIQING - Xinjiang Agricultural University
item SHENG, JIANDONG - Xinjiang Agricultural University

Submitted to: International Soil and Water Conservation Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/16/2015
Publication Date: 6/27/2015
Citation: Zhang, W., Zhou, J., Feng, G.G., Weindorf, D.C., Hu, G., Sheng, J. 2015. Characteristics of water erosion and conservation practice in arid regions of Central Asia: Xinjiang Province, China as an example. International Soil and Water Conservation Research. 3:97-111.

Interpretive Summary: The soil erosion area of Xinjiang accounts for nearly one third of the total soil erosion area in China now, and its water erosion showed an ever-deteriorating trend during the last 26 years. Limited precipitation makes vegetation restoration and forest plantation hard, Xinjiang, therefore, is one of the regions with the most difficulty in controling soil erosion in China. Both anthropogenic factors, such as population boom and development activities, and natural factors, such as vegetation degradation, climate change, and landforms are influencing soil water erosion. The interaction of these drivers made water erosion in this fragile ecosystem even worse. Taking integrated measures to control soil water erosion could not only minimize socioeconomic loss caused by geohazards, but also bring both ecological and economic benefits from a long-term perspective. A landscape ecological design approach, such as developing forest-fruit industry and establishing grassland farmland, is recommended for the long-term soil and water conservation in Xinjiang.

Technical Abstract: Located in the inland arid area of central Asia and northwest China, Xinjiang is recently getting more concerns on soil water erosion issues, which is highly related with the sustainable utilization of barren soil and limited water resources. Historical soil erosion data were analyzed to determine the trend, intensity and driving factors of water erosion, as well as its environmental impacts and integrated control measurements. Results showed that water erosion area in Xinjiang was 8.76×104 km2 in 2011, which mainly distributed in the Ili river valley and the northern and southern Mountain Tian. Soil erosion grade was generally slight and the average erosion modulus was 2186 t km-2a-1. During the latest 26 years, the water erosion area in Xinjiang was reduced by 23.2%, whereas the intensity was still increasing. The driving factors from large to small impact included: population boom and human activities> vegetation degradation> rainfall and climate change> topography and soil erodibility> tectonics movement. Water erosion resulted in eco-environmental and socioeconomic losses, such as destroying farmland and grassland, triggering flooding, loading sediment to reservoirs, damaging transportation and irrigation facilities, and aggravating poverty. Ecological restoration and integrated control of soil erosion in small watersheds has been conducted in Xinjiang since 1994. This strategy first emphasized natural restoration of degraded vegetation, and forest plantation and engineering measurements ranked second. Currently, an average of 1.95×103 km2 formerly eroded area is under control every year. This study highlighted the importance and longevity of soil and water conservation in Xinjiang, and offered some recommendations on ecological restoration and desertification mitigation in arid regions.