Land System Dynamics in Mountainous Watersheds under Global Change: Implications for Science and Policy

A special issue of Conservation (ISSN 2673-7159).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 12527

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Ecosystem Studies, The University of Tokyo, Yayoi Campus, 1 Chome-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan
Interests: alpine hydrology; ecosystem services; sediment yield assessment research
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue invites contributions from research seeking to understand and manage better to sediment dynamics in mountainous watersheds of the world. Further, the Special Issue will focus on the impact of natural and anthropogenic influences including climate change and land-use change on watershed sediment loads and associated hydrological dynamics. Assessment approaches may be qualitative or quantitative and involve both empirical and physically based mathematical approaches from the local to the global. Key areas include soil erosion, sediment yield and retention modeling sediment-assessment techniques, their role in watershed management, reservoir functioning, drinking water supplies, and regional policy and decision making.

The main themes of this research topic are:

  • Qualitative and quantitative approaches to sediment load, and sediment yield estimation in the mountainous watersheds of the world;
  • Sediment retention services of the mountainous watersheds
  • Soil erosion in the mountainous watersheds
  • Water yield in the mountainous watersheds
  • Glacial erosion in the mountainous watersheds
  • Natural and anthropogenic impacts on the sediment load and sediment yield; and
  • Modelling of the change in biophysical supply of sediment yield under baseline and future climate projections.
  • Current and future land use land cover dynamics in the mountainous watersheds

Original research articles, Review articles, Short communications and letters to editor are accepted for submission.

I look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Gowhar Meraj
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • sediment yield
  • climate projections
  • sediment retention services
  • alps
  • Himalayas
  • spatially explicit modeling
  • remote sensing
  • GIS
  • watershed management
  • river basin management
  • land use land cover
  • soil mapping
  • erosion mapping
  • landslides
  • floods
  • drinking water quality
  • socioeconomic determinants

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

31 pages, 6443 KiB  
Article
Striking a Balance between Conservation and Development: A Geospatial Approach to Watershed Prioritisation in the Himalayan Basin
by Parvaiz Ahmad Ganie, Ravindra Posti, Vidya Shree Bharti, Vinay Kumar Sehgal, Debajit Sarma and Pramod Kumar Pandey
Conservation 2023, 3(4), 460-490; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3040031 - 10 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 745
Abstract
This study was undertaken in the Himalayan basin, in the river Lohawati, Uttarakhand, to study its hydro-morphological characteristics and prioritise the watersheds using geospatial tools. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection (ASTER-30 m) data and the Survey of India’s topographic sheets were used [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken in the Himalayan basin, in the river Lohawati, Uttarakhand, to study its hydro-morphological characteristics and prioritise the watersheds using geospatial tools. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection (ASTER-30 m) data and the Survey of India’s topographic sheets were used to analyse the study area comprehensively. Nine watersheds were identified within the basin in order to calculate the hydro-morphological characteristics in terms of basic, shape, texture, and relief aspects. The basin was identified as being elongated, with a total drainage area of 337.48 km2. The interaction between the terrain, rock formations, and precipitation levels produced a branching structure in the areas drainage system that ranged from dendritic to sub-dendritic. The basin had been classified as a fifth-order basin, comprising a network of 500 stream segments spanning a total length of 492.41 km. In each of the watersheds, the primary streams are of the first order, followed by those of the second order, and so forth. The physiography and lithology of the basin have a significant influence on this pattern. The calculated elongation ratio, circulatory ratio, form factor, shape index, and shape factor ranged from 0.57 to 0.80, 0.35 to 0.64, 0.26 to 0.50, 1.98 to 3.89, and 0.57 to 1.77, respectively. These values indicate that watersheds are elongated, suggesting moderate lag times. The parameters, including drainage density (0.98 to 1.62), stream frequency (1.07 to 1.59), infiltration number (1.04 to 2.59), drainage texture (0.67 to 2.82), and drainage intensity (0.93 to 1.12), pointed towards the coarser drainage texture, higher infiltration, and minimal runoff characteristics of the basin. In light of the relief characteristics of the basin, a higher basin relief, relief ratio, and relative relief were observed for the watersheds, indicating the possibility of higher erosion and deforestation rates. Using the Weighted Sum Analysis (WSA) method, the computed factors were utilised to rank the watersheds based on their potential for erosion. Based on the WSA approach, watersheds were classified into high-, moderate-, and low-prioritisation zones. This further indicates that 36.14% (121.95 km2) of watersheds are in the high-priority zone, and that 48.84% (164.91 km2) and 15.00% (50.62 km2) of watersheds are in the moderate- and low-priority zones, respectively. The WSA is a practical strategy to prioritise watersheds when making appropriate decisions. Full article
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16 pages, 9074 KiB  
Article
Assessing Landslide Susceptibility along India’s National Highway 58: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Remote Sensing, GIS, and Logistic Regression Analysis
by Mukta Sharma, Ritambhara K. Upadhyay, Gaurav Tripathi, Naval Kishore, Achala Shakya, Gowhar Meraj, Shruti Kanga, Suraj Kumar Singh, Pankaj Kumar, Brian Alan Johnson and Som Nath Thakur
Conservation 2023, 3(3), 444-459; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3030030 - 07 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1437
Abstract
The NH 58 area in India has been experiencing an increase in landslide occurrences, posing significant threats to local communities, infrastructure, and the environment. The growing need to identify areas prone to landslides for effective disaster risk management, land use planning, and infrastructure [...] Read more.
The NH 58 area in India has been experiencing an increase in landslide occurrences, posing significant threats to local communities, infrastructure, and the environment. The growing need to identify areas prone to landslides for effective disaster risk management, land use planning, and infrastructure development has led to the increased adoption of advanced geospatial technologies and statistical methods. In this context, this research article presents an in-depth analysis aimed at developing a landslide susceptibility zonation (LSZ) map for the NH 58 area using remote sensing, GIS, and logistic regression analysis. The study incorporates multiple geo-environmental factors for analysis, such as slope aspect, curvature, drainage density, elevation, fault distance, flow accumulation, geology, geomorphology, land use land cover (LULC), road distance, and slope angle. Utilizing 50% of the landslide inventory data, the logistic regression model was trained to determine correlations between causal factors and landslide occurrences. The logistic regression model was then employed to calculate landslide probabilities for each mapping unit within the NH 58 area, which were subsequently classified into relative susceptibility zones using a statistical class break technique. The model’s accuracy was verified through ROC curve analysis, resulting in a 92% accuracy rate. The LSZ map highlights areas near road cut slopes as highly susceptible to landslides, providing crucial information for land use planning and management to reduce landslide risk in the NH 58 area. The study’s findings are beneficial for policymakers, planners, and other stakeholders involved in regional disaster risk management. This research offers a comprehensive analysis of landslide-influencing factors in the NH 58 area and introduces an LSZ map as a valuable tool for managing and mitigating landslide risks. The map also serves as a critical reference for future research and contributes to the broader understanding of landslide susceptibility in the region. Full article
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15 pages, 1695 KiB  
Article
Mountain Cryosphere Landscapes in South America: Value and Protection
by Sebastián Ruiz-Pereira, Voltaire Alvarado Peterson and Darío Trombotto Liaudat
Conservation 2023, 3(1), 232-246; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3010017 - 21 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1721
Abstract
Mountain landscapes support hydric and biodiversity potential under different ownership and land use perspectives. A focal point justifying their preservation is often the legislation’s ethical endorsement. Yet, when scales for assessment diverge without a common analytical purpose, the protective measures may become either [...] Read more.
Mountain landscapes support hydric and biodiversity potential under different ownership and land use perspectives. A focal point justifying their preservation is often the legislation’s ethical endorsement. Yet, when scales for assessment diverge without a common analytical purpose, the protective measures may become either ambiguous or insufficient. By considering that mountain cryosphere landscapes have both subjective and supply values, we focused on approaches to protect them and examined conceptual dissonances in their assessment. This ambiguity was examined by analyzing the hydric storage potential of the mountain cryosphere in semi-arid regions in the Andes. We reviewed the technical aspects of cryosphere hydrology and how current legislation aims to preserve freshwater supply and non-instrumental value. The analysis found a clash between instrumental and non-instrumental values and, most importantly, the neglect of a temporal dimension for landscape evolution. Particularly, landscape protection becomes suboptimal as scales of analysis for use and non-use values diverge. Therefore, we recommend analyzing mountain cryosphere landscapes as overlapped sub-units bearing a unified potential (future value) as a hydric resource. This analysis should fit the most inclusive scale on which transaction costs reflecting needs and insurance values reflecting management quality are optimal. Full article
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26 pages, 5948 KiB  
Article
Regional Conservation Assessment of the Threatened Species: A Case Study of Twelve Plant Species in the Farasan Archipelago
by Rahmah N. Al-Qthanin and Samah A. Alharbi
Conservation 2023, 3(1), 127-152; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3010011 - 15 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2451
Abstract
Assessing species at the regional level for their conservation is a vital first step in identifying and prioritizing species for both ex situ and in situ conservation actions. The complex coastal geomorphology of the Farasan Archipelago gives rise to promontories and bays that [...] Read more.
Assessing species at the regional level for their conservation is a vital first step in identifying and prioritizing species for both ex situ and in situ conservation actions. The complex coastal geomorphology of the Farasan Archipelago gives rise to promontories and bays that fragment the coastal flora. Climate change studies, combined with a case study of anthropogenic land use changes such as urbanization, tourism, and fishing, highlight the threat to the fragmented plant populations. In this study, the regional IUCN categories and criteria have been used to assess the conservation status of twelve targeted taxa of the Farasan Archipelago based on the data collected during field surveys and a literature review. According to our results, six species have been categorized as endangered (EN), four species as vulnerable (VU), and two species as near threatened (NT). Compared to an earlier assessment at the global level, Avicennia marina and Rhizophora mucronata have been re-categorized with a high degree of threat and ten species have been assessed for the first time. An effective action plan for the protection of the coastal zone and inland area biodiversity of the Archipelago is crucial to reduce threats to the islands’ plants. Full article
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21 pages, 4867 KiB  
Article
Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) Based Soil Erosion Susceptibility Mapping in Northwestern Himalayas: A Case Study of Central Kashmir Province
by Fayma Mushtaq, Majid Farooq, Anamika Shalini Tirkey and Bashir Ahmad Sheikh
Conservation 2023, 3(1), 32-52; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3010003 - 07 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2483
Abstract
The Kashmir Valley is immensely susceptible to soil erosion due to its diverse topography and unstable geological formations in the Himalayan region. The present study helps in assessing the spatial distribution and prioritizing soil erosion zones in the Central Kashmir region covering the [...] Read more.
The Kashmir Valley is immensely susceptible to soil erosion due to its diverse topography and unstable geological formations in the Himalayan region. The present study helps in assessing the spatial distribution and prioritizing soil erosion zones in the Central Kashmir region covering the Sindh and Dachigam catchments. The study implemented the GIS-based analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and weighted sum method (WSM) using datasets of precipitation, geological map, soil map, and satellite imagery and derived eleven factors (topographical derivatives, LULC, soil, drainage, rainfall, lithology, wetness index and greenness of an area). The ratings and weightage were proven to be unbiased and reliable based on the observed value of the consistency ratio (CR) (i.e., 0.07). The study depicts 41% of the total area to be extremely vulnerable to soil erosion. The slope varies from 0–62° with mean of 22.12°, indicating 467.99 km2 (26%) and 281.12 km2 (15%) of the area under high and very high susceptible zones, respectively. The NDVI and NDWI maps indicate soil erosion severity covering an area of 40% and 38%, respectively, in highly susceptible zones. High drainage density and curvature zones were observed in 18.33% and 22.64% of the study area, respectively. The study will assist in the planning and implementation of conservation measures. Full article
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18 pages, 5942 KiB  
Article
Observing Spatiotemporal Inconsistency of Erosion and Accretion in the Barak River Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques
by Briti Sundar Sil, Kumar Ashwini, Wajahat Annayat, Jatan Debnath, Majid Farooq and Gowhar Meraj
Conservation 2023, 3(1), 14-31; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3010002 - 26 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2551
Abstract
Alluvial rivers all over the world have one common problem, which is their meandering pattern. This meander formation is because of natural and anthropogenic processes. Barak River is dynamic, and due to this, it is exposed to regular shifting and creates many problems [...] Read more.
Alluvial rivers all over the world have one common problem, which is their meandering pattern. This meander formation is because of natural and anthropogenic processes. Barak River is dynamic, and due to this, it is exposed to regular shifting and creates many problems for the people who reside near the river. The livelihood of many people depends on agriculture, which they conduct on the nearby sides of the river. However, the regular shifting of riverbanks makes their life miserable and leads to severe economic losses. Further, roadways and railways run along the banks of the Barak River, and during monsoon, Assam (Silchar), along with three states, Mizoram, Manipur, and Tripura, become disconnected from the rest of India because the road and rail connections fail due to riverbank erosion. Therefore, considering the catchment area and the importance of this river, we have tried to understand the spatiotemporal changes (erosion, deposition, and unchanged area) in the Barak River. From our analysis, we found that the maximum and minimum amount of erosion occurred from 2012–2017 and 2002–2012 and were 727.56 ha and 332.69 ha, respectively. While the highest amount of deposition that occurred during 1984–2017 was 1054.21 ha, the minimum amount of deposition that occurred during 2012–2017 was 351.32. Overall, it was identified that the area under the deposition was more dynamic than the erosion from 1984–2017. Moreover, from the temporal analysis of land use/land cover from 1984–2017, it was found that the area that comes under the settlement and arable land has increased by 10.47% and 5.05%, respectively. The dynamic factors, such as the nature of channel gradient, land use/land cover, and riparian vegetative cover, could be the probable driving forces that cause changes in the erosional and depositional areas. This study will help us understand the dynamics of the Barak River and other rivers of this type worldwide. This study shall help implement strategies that will help manage bank erosion by adapting scientific bank protection measures. Full article
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