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Geospatial Modeling and Mapping of Soil Erosion in India

Why is it in the news?

  • The study titled “Geospatial Modeling and Mapping of Soil Erosion in India,” conducted by IIT-Delhi, offers a comprehensive national-scale assessment of soil erosion and sediment yield mapping to facilitate the planning and implementation of soil conservation strategies.
·    Soil erosion is defined as the accelerated removal of topsoil from the land surface through water, wind, and tillage, significantly exacerbated by unsustainable human activities such as intensive agriculture, deforestation, and improper land use changes.


Key findings of the study

  • An estimated yearly potential soil loss for India at 21 tonnes per hectare per year, with over 78 million hectares of agricultural land experiencing an average productivity loss of 8%.
  • Vulnerability hotspots for soil erosion are identified, with the Brahmaputra basin having the maximum potential erosion, followed by the Mahanadi and Ganga basins.
  • Approximately 5% of the geographical area, including parts of Assam, Meghalaya, and Himachal Pradesh, is classified under catastrophic erosion category, posing risks to infrastructure.
  • Factors contributing to soil erosion include rainfall intensity combined with topography, with rainfall intensity demonstrating the highest influence.
Concerns related to soil erosion

·       Reduced productivity due to loss of fertile topsoil, sedimentation of water bodies, increased flooding and landslides, and desertification.

Initiatives in India to address soil erosion

·       Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) aimed at restoring ecological balance by conserving and developing degraded natural resources.

·       The Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP) for improving productivity of waste and degraded lands.

·       Participation in the Bonn Challenge under UNCCD, committing to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030.


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