The Effect of Land Use on Soil Erosion in the Guadiana Watershed in Puerto Rico

LÓPEZ, TANIA DEL MAR; AIDE, T. MITCHELL; SCATENA F. N. 1998. The Effect of Land Use on Soil Erosion in the Guadiana Watershed in Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 34, No. 3-4, 298-307, 1998.

The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was used in conjunction with a Geographic Information System to determine the influence of land use and other environmental factors on soil erosion in the Guadiana watershed in Puerto Rico. Mean annual erosion, suspended sediment discharge, and the rainfall-erosion factor of the RUSLE increased with annual rainfall. Median soil erosion rates varied among the seven land uses: bare soil (534 Mg ha-1 yr-1), open canopy forest (26 Mg ha-1 yr-1), agriculture (22 Mgha-1 yr -1), pasture (17 Mg ha -1 yr -1), less dense urban (15 Mg ha-1 yr -1), closed canopy forest (7 Mg ha -1 yr -1), and dense urban (1 Mg ha-1 yr -1). The differences between open canopy forest, agriculture, pasture, and less dense urban were not significantly different but median values for open canopy forests were slightly greater because they occurred on steep slopes. The five-year average sediment delivery ratio for the basin was 0.17, which is comparable to delivery ratios estimated for watersheds of similar size. Simulations of different land use configurations indicate that reforestation of 5% of the watershed with the highest erosion rates would decrease basin wide erosion by 20%. If the entire watershed was reforested, soil erosion would be reduced by 37%.