Natural Resources, School of


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M. Khorchani, L. Gaspar, E. Nadal-Romero et al., Effects of cropland abandonment and afforestation on soil redistribution in a small Mediterranean mountain catchment, International Soil and Water Conservation Research, j.iswcr.2022.10.001


Open access.


In slopes of Mediterranean mid-mountain areas, land use and land cover changes linked to the abandonment of cropland activity affect soil quality and degradation and soil redistribution; however, limited attention has been paid to this issue at catchment scale. This paper evaluates the effects of cropland abandonment and post-land abandonment management (through natural revegetation and afforestation) on soil redistribution rates using fallout 137Cs measurements in the Araguás catchment (0.45 km2 , Central Spanish Pyrenees). A total of 52 soil core samples, distributed in a regular grid, from the first 30 -40 cm and 9 sectioned reference samples were collected across the catchment and soil properties were analysed. Fallout 137Cs was measured in a 5 cm sectioned references samples and in bulk grid samples. 137Cs inventories were used to estimate soil erosion and deposition rates across the catchment. Results show that the highest erosion rates were recorded under sparsely vegetated sites in the badland area, while the lowest rates were found in the afforested area, but no significant differences were observed between the different uses and covers in soil redistribution rates likely due to a long history of human intervention through cultivation in steep slopes and afforestation practices. However, the recovery of the soil organic matter in afforested areas suggest that afforestation can reduce soil degradation at long-term scale. The information gained achieve a better understanding of soil redistribution dynamics and provide knowledge for effective land management after cropland abandonment of agroecosystems in Mediterranean mountain areas.