Title: Impact of land use and land cover change on soil physical and chemical properties: a case study of Era-Hayelom tabias, Northern Ethiopia

Final project
Year of publication:
land restoration, microsites, Salix phylicifoli


The conversion of forest to other land use like agriculture is getting serious, especially in the dry afromontane forest of Ethiopia. These unsustainable land use and land cover changes are recognized as the main factors in the process of soil resource degradation. This study was intended to investigate the impact of land use and land cover change on the physical and chemical properties of soil in the Era-Hayelom tabias, Northern Tigray, Ethiopia. Soil samples were collected from four land use and land cover classes, bare land, farm land, grass land and forest land, which were forest land before 1986. The forest land was converted to other land use and land cover at 110 ha/year and grass land by 58 ha/year. The amount of farm land and bare land had consequently increased from 1986 to 2010. Land use and land cover change significantly affected the value of soil physical and chemical properties. The soil properties bulk density, pH and sand percentage were significantly higher in bare land and farm land than forest land. Clay percentage and cation exchange capacity were also higher in farm land compared to the others. But organic matter content, available phosphorus and total nitrogen were significantly higher in forest lands. With the reduction of natural vegetation cover the physical properties like bulk density and pH increased and reduced the availability of water and nutrients. The carbon stock of the soil at depth 0 - 30 cm had decreased by 6568 T/year on average from 1986 to 2010. The overall impact of land use and land cover change degraded the quality of the soils and increased the loss of carbon stocks. Therefore, appropriate land use policy and proper land restoration practice is vital to maintain productivity of the land.

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