Modeling the impact of land use/land cover change on soil erosion: in Suluh River Basin, Northern Ethiopia


  • Hailay Hagos Entahabu Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Bahir Dar University; Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Debre Tabor University
  • Amare Sewnet Minale Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Bahir Dar University; Bahir Dar University, Spearheads Climate Resilient Green Economy Research in North Western Ethiopia (BDU-IUC Programme), Bahir Dar University
  • Emiru Birhane Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle University; Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management Norwegian, University of Life Sciences



land change modeler, land use/land cover, soil erosion rate, Universal Soil Loss Equation


The Suluh river basin is subjected to soil erosion due to land use and land cover change. Yet, the impact of land use/land cover change soil erosion has not been applied in the study area. Thus, the current study focused on the modeling of the impact of land use/land cover changes on soil erosion in the Suluh river basin, the northern highland part of Ethiopia. Landsat image data sources were used to achieve the objectives. Ancillary data was also used. The nearest neighbor's fuzzy way of classification and the land change modeler for modeling, and the revised universal soil loss equation model for estimating the soil erosion rate were employed. Both qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The study's findings confirmed that cultivated land, bare land, and built-up areas significantly increased while areas occupied by natural vegetation such as forest land, shrub lands, and grazing lands decreased at a rapid rate in between 1990 to 2018. The predicted results suggest the continuation of the trend up to 2048 if business as usual is continued. The annual mean of soil lost in the study area was about 36.31, 43.32, and 47.78 in the years 1990, 2002, 2018, and will be 56.54, and 71.62 tons per hectare per year in 2028, and 2048, respectively. When we consider 15 t ha−1 year−1 as the maximum tolerable soil loss (TSL) rate for ease of presentation, the areas above the TSL have increased from 88.3% in 1990 to 88.6% in 2002 and to 89.6% in 2018, and are expected to increase to 89.9% and 99.8% in 2028 and 2048 periods, respectively. Thus, land use and land cover change information and its impact on soil erosion should be taken under consideration by land use planners to apply sustainable land management activities in the Suluh river basin.


Abate, S. 2011. Estimating soil loss rates for soil conservation planning in the Borena Woreda of South Wollo Highlands, Ethiopia. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 13(3):1-20.

Ansari, A. and Golabi, M.H. 2019. Prediction of spatial land use changes based on LCM in a GIS environment for Desert Wetlands-A case study: Meighan Wetland, Iran. International Soil and Water Conservation Research 7(1):64-70, doi:10.1016/j.iswcr.2018.10.001.

Berhan, G., Woldeamlak, B. and Bräuning, A. 2015. Model-based characterization and monitoring of runo? and soil erosion in response to land use/land cover changes in the Modjo watershed, Ethiopia. Land Degradation and Development 26:711-724, doi:10.1002/ldr.2276.

Bewket, W. and Teferi, E. 2009. Assessment of soil erosion hazard and prioritization for treatment at the watershed level: case study in the Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Land Degradation and Development 20:609-622, doi:10.1002/ldr.944.

Blanco, H. and Lal, R. 2008. Principles of Soil Conservation and Management. Springer Science+Business Media B.V, Berlin, p 240.

Brhane, G. and Mekonen, K. 2009. Estimating soil loss using Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) for soil conservation planning at Medego watershed, Northern Ethiopia. Journal of American Science 5(1):58-69.

Congalton, R.G. and Green, K. 2019. Assessing the Accuracy of Remotely Sensed Data: Principles and Practices. CRC press., doi:10.1201/9780429052729

Desmet, P. J. J. and Govers, G. 1996. A GIS procedure for automatically calculating the USLE LS factor on topographically complex landscape units. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 51(5):427-433.

Doxani, G., Siachalou, S. and Tsakiri-Strati, M. 2008. An object-oriented approach to urban land cover change detection. The International Archieves of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing, and Spatial Infornation Science 37:1655-1660.

Dzieszko, P. 2014. Land-cover modelling using corine land cover data and multi-layer perceptron. Quaestiones Geographicae 33(1):5-22, doi:10.2478/quageo-2014-0004.

EFAP (Ethiopian Forestry Action Program), (1993) Ethiopian forestry action program: the challenge for development, vol 2. Ministry of natural resources development and environmental protection, Addis Ababa FAO (1986) Ethiopian highlands reclamation study, Ethiopia. Final Report. FAO, Rome.

Eweg, H.P.A. and van Lammere R.J.A. 1996. The application of a geographical information system at the rehabilitation of degraded and degrading areas: a case study in the Highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia. Wageningen University & Research.

FAO. 1998. The Soil and Terrain Database for northeastern Africa. Land and Water Digital Media Series No. 2 (CD-ROM). Rome, Italy.

FES. 2009. Assessment of soil erosion in selected micro-watersheds in Koraput district, Orissa. Anand, India: Foundation for Ecological Security Report.

Fleiss, J.L., Levin, B. and Paik, M.C. 2013. Statistical Methods for Rates and Proportions. John Wiley and Sons.

Gashaw, T., Tulu, T., Argaw, M. and Worqlul, A.W. 2019. Modeling the impacts of land use-land cover changes on soil erosion and sediment yield in the Andassa watershed, upper Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Environmental Earth Sciences 78(24):1-22, doi:10.1007/s12665-019-8726-x.

Gelagay, H.S. and Minale, A.S. 2016. Soil loss estimation using GIS and Remote sensing techniques: A case of Koga watershed, Northwestern Ethiopia. International Soil and Water Conservation Research 4(2):126-136, doi:10.1016/j.iswcr.2016.01.002.

Gete, Z. and Hurni, H. 2001. Implications of land use and land cover dynamics for mountain resource degradation in the Northwestern Ethiopian highlands. Mountain Research and Development 21(2):184-191, doi:10.1659/0276-4741(2001)021[0184.

Gibson, L., Münch, Z., Palmer, A. and Mantel, S. 2018. Future land cover change scenarios in South African grasslands-implications of altered biophysical drivers on land management. Heliyon 4(7):e00693, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00693.

Gizachew, A. 2014. A geographic information system based soil loss and sediment estimation in Gerdi Watershed, highlands of Ethiopia. Journal of Environmental and Earth Science 4(19):62-74.

Haregeweyn, N., Tsunekawa, A., Poesen, J., Tsubo, M., Meshesha, D. T., Fenta, A. A., ... and Adgo, E. 2017. Comprehensive assessment of soil erosion risk for better land use planning in river basins: Case study of the Upper Blue Nile River. Science of the Total Environment 574:95-108, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.09.019.

Hellden, U. 1987. An assessment of woody biomass, community forests, land use and soil erosion in Ethiopia: a feasibility study on the use of remote sensing and GIS analysis for planning purposes in developing countries. Lund University Press, Lund.

Hurni, H. 1985a Erosion-productivity-conservation systems in Ethiopia.In: proceedings of paper presented at the 4th international conference on soil conservation, Maracay, Venezuela.

Hurni, H. 1985b. Soil conservation manual for Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Ministry of Agriculture.

Hurni, H. 1988. Degradation and conservation of the resources in the Ethiopian highlands. Mountain Research and Development 8:2-3, doi:10.2307/3673438.

Hurni, H. 1993. Land degradation, famine, and land resource scenarios in Ethiopia. In: Pimentel, D. (ed), World Soil Erosion and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 27-62, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511735394.004.

Hurni, H., Tato, K. and Zeleke, G. 2005. The implications of changes in population, land use, and land management for surface runoff in the Upper Nile basin area of Ethiopia. Mountain Research and Development 25(2):147-154, doi:10.1659/0276-4741(2005)025.

Kumar, S., Kumar, S. and Barman, A.G. 2018. Supplier selection using fuzzy TOPSIS multi criteria model for a small scale steel manufacturing unit. Procedia Computer Science 133:905-912, doi:10.1016/j.procs.2018.07.097.

Lakew, D., Menale, K., Benin, S. and Pende,J. 2001. Land Degradation and Strategies for Sustainable Development In Ethiopian Highlands: Amhara Region: Socio-Economic and Policy Research Working Paper No.32.

Lambin, E.F. and Geist, H.J. 2006. Land Use and Land Cover Change: Local Processes and Global Impacts. Springer Publication 222, doi:10.1007/3-540-32202-7.

Mas, J.F., Kolb, M., Paegelow, M., Olmedo, M.T.C. and Houet, T. 2014. Inductive pattern-based land use/cover change models: A comparison of four software packages. Environmental Modelling and Software 51:94-111, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2013.09.010.

Megahed, Y., Cabral, P., Silva, J. and Caetano, M. 2015. Land cover mapping analysis and urban growth modelling using remote sensing techniques in Greater Cairo Region-Egypt. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 4(3):1750-1769, doi:10.3390/ijgi4031750.

Mekuria, A. 2005. Forest conversion-soil degradation-farmers' perception nexus: implications for sustainable land use in the southwest of Ethiopia. Ecology and Development Series No. 26, Göttingen, Germany.

Meshesha, D.T., Tsunekawa, A., Tsubo, M. and Haregeweyn, N. 2012. Dynamics and hotspots of soil erosion and management scenarios of the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. International Journal of Sediment Research 27:84-99, doi:10.1016/S1001-6279(12)60018-3.

Mishra, V.N., Rai, P.K. and Mohan, K. 2014. Prediction of land use changes based on Land Change Modeler (LCM) using remote sensing: A case study of Muzaffarpur (Bihar), India. Journal of the Geographical Institute" Jovan Cvijic", SASA 64(1):111-127, doi:10.2298/IJGI1401111M.

Mitasova, H. and Mitas, Z. 1999. Modeling soil detachment with RUSLE 3D using GIS.IL, USA: University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign.

Mitiku, H., Herweg, K. and Stillhardt, B. 2006. Sustainable land management-a new approach to soil and water conservation in Ethiopia. Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection Department, Mekelle Uni-versity; Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, and Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research, North-South, Mekelle.

Moges, D.M. and Bhat, H.G. 2017. Integration of geospatial technologies with RUSLE for analysis of land use/cover change impact on soil erosion: case study in Rib watershed, north-western highland Ethiopia. Environmental and Earth Science 76:765, doi:10.1007/s12665-017-7109-4.

Monserud, R.A. 1990. Methods for comparing global vegetation maps, Report WP-90-40. IIASA, Luxemburg.

Moore, I.D. and Burch, G.J. 1986. Physical basis of the length slope factor in the Universal Soil Loss Equation. Soil Sciemce Society of America Journal 50(5):1294-1298, doi:10.2136/sssaj1986.03615995005000050042x.

Moore, I.D. and Burch, G.J. 1992. Modelling erosion and deposition: topographic effects. Transactions of the ASAE, 29(6), 1624-1630, doi:10.13031/2013.30363.

Morgan, R.P.C. 1994. The European soil erosion model: an update on its structure and research base. In Conserving soil resources: European perspectives. Selected papers from the First International Congress of the European Society for Soil Conservation, pp. 286-299.

Ongsomwang, S. and Thinley, U. 2009. Spatial modeling for soil erosion assessment in Upper Lam Phra Phloeng Watershed, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Suranaree Journal of Science and Technology 16(3):253-262.

Pimentel, D. 2006. Soil erosion: a food and environmental treat. Environmental Development and Sustainability 8:119-137, doi:10.1007/s10668-005-1262-8.

Pimentel, D. and Burgess, M. 2013. Soil erosion threatens food production. Agriculture 3:443-463, doi:10.3390/agriculture3030443.

Ramachandra, T.V., Bharath, H.A., Vinay, S., Joshi, N.V., Kumar, U., and Rao, K.V. 2013. Modelling urban revolution in greater Bangalore, India. In 30th Annual In-House Symposium on Space Science and Technology, ISRO-IISc Space Technology Cell, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (pp. 7-8).

Renard, K.G., Foster, G.R., Weesies, G.A., McCool, D.K. and Yoder, D.C. 1997. Predicting soil erosion by water: a guide to conservation planning with the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). United States Department of Agriculture, Handbook No. 703, p 404.

Reusing, M., Schneider, T. and Ammer, U. 2000. 586Modeling soil loss rates in the Ethiopian highlands by integration of high resolution MOMS- 02/D2-stereo-data in a GIS. International Journal of Remote Sensing 21(9):1885-1896, doi: 10.1080/014311600209797.

Roy, H.G., Fox, D.M. and Emsellem, K. 2014. Predicting land cover change in a Mediterranean catchment at different time scales. International Conference on Computational Science and Its Applications (pp. 315-330). Springer, Cham., doi:10.1007/978-3-319-09147-1_23

Sembroni, A., Molin, P., Dramis, F. and Abebe, B. 2017. Geology of the Tekeze river basin (northern Ethiopia). Journal of Maps 13(2):621-631, doi:10.1080/17445647.2017.1351907.

Sharma, A., Tiwari, K.N. and Bhadoria, P.B.S. 2011. Effect of land use land cover change on soil erosion potential in an agricultural watershed. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 173(1-4):789-801, doi:10.1007/s10661-010-1423-6.

Simms, A.D., Woodroffe, C.D. and Jones, B.G. 2003. Application of RUSLE for erosion management in a coastal catchment, Southern NSW. Proceedings of the International Congress on Modeling and Simulation: Integrative Modeling of Bio-Physical, Social and Economic Systems for Resource Management Solutions (pp.678-683). July 14-17, 2003. Townsville, Australia.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2003. Conservation implications of climate change: Soil erosion and runoff from cropland, report, Ankeny, Iowa.

Sonneveld, B.G.J.S. and Keyzer, M.A. 2003. Land under pressure: soil conservation concerns and opportunities for Ethiopia. Land Degradation and Development 14:5-23, doi:10.1007/s10661-010-1423-6.

Taddese, G. 2001. Land degradation: a challenge to Ethiopia. Environmental Management 27(6):815-824, doi:10.1007/s002670010190.

Tadesse, A. and Abebe, M. 2014. GIS based soil loss estimation using RUSLE model: the case of jabi tehinan woreda, ANRS, Ethiopia. Natural Resources 5:616-626, doi:10.4236/nr.2014.511054.

Wischmeier, W.H. and Smith, D.D. 1978. Predicting rainfall erosion losses: a guide to conservation planning. United States Department of Agriculture, Handbook No. 537, p58.

Woldeamlak, B. and Sterk, G. 2005. Dynamics in land cover and its e?ect on stream fow in the Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia. Hydrologycal Processes 19:445-458, doi:10.1002/hyp.5542.

Worku, A.D. 2010. Land degradation mapping and erosion estimate in Gado sub-watershed using remote sensing and geographical information system. M.Sc Thesis. Addis Ababa University, p 81

Xu, Y., Shao, X., Kong, X., Peng, J. and Cai, Y. 2008. Adapting the RUSLE and GIS to model soil erosion risk in a mountains karst watershed, Guizhou Province, China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 141:275-286, doi:10.1007/s10661-007-9894-9.

Zeleke, G. 2000. Landscape dynamics and soil erosion process modelling in the north-western Ethiopian highlands. PhD Thesis. Bern University, Bern.

Zerihun, M., Mohammedyasin, M.S., Sewnet, D., Adem, A.A. and Lakew, M. 2018. Assessment of soil erosion using RUSLE, GIS and remote sensing in NW Ethiopia. Geoderma Regional 12:83-90, doi:10.1016/j.geodrs.2018.01.002.








How to Cite

Entahabu, H. H., Minale, A. S., & Birhane, E. (2023). Modeling the impact of land use/land cover change on soil erosion: in Suluh River Basin, Northern Ethiopia. Journal of Degraded and Mining Lands Management, 10(4), 4749–4759.



Original Paper