Ecological restoration is not sufficient for reconciling the trade-off between soil retention and water yield: A contrasting study from catchment governance perspective

The Science of the Total Environment
Chong JiangPing Zhou


Ecological restoration program (ERP) is widely recognized as an effective measure to combat land degradation and improve environmental quality. However, inappropriate ERPs lead to trade-offs between soil retention and water yield as well as conflicts of soil and water resources between the midstream and the downstream of catchment. This study aims to assess the efficiency of ERPs in soil erosion control and identify the trade-offs between soil retention and water yield through the lens of runoff and sediment regimes in contrasting catchments of the Loess Plateau (LP) and the Karst Plateau (KP). Although favorable climate and rapid vegetation restoration substantially reduced water erosion in both these areas, the hydrological responses were not the same because of climate differences. In the arid LP, water and energy variables correlated closely with vegetation cover. Excessive afforestation programs in drylands increased vegetation transpiration and soil evaporation, further exhausting soil water resources, and eventually causing water yield reduction. However, soil and water conservation programs (SWCPs) in the humid KP reduced sediment yield substantially, and the runoff remained stable. Significant runoff reduction in the m...Continue Reading


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