The effect of natural infrastructure on water erosion mitigation in the Andes

Veerle Vanacker, Armando Molina, Miluska A. Rosas, Vivien Bonnesoeur, Francisco Román-Dañobeytia, Boris F. Ochoa-Tocachi, Wouter Buytaert

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículo de revisiónrevisión exhaustiva

15 Citas (Scopus)


To expand the knowledge base on natural infrastructure for erosion mitigation in the Andes, it is necessary to move beyond case by case empirical studies to comprehensive assessments. This study reviews the state of evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to mitigate soil erosion by water and is based on Andean case studies published in gray and peer-reviewed literature. Based on a systematic review of 118 case studies from the Andes, this study addressed the following research questions. (1) Which erosion indicators allow us to assess the effectiveness of natural infrastructure? (2) What is the overall impact of working with natural infrastructure on on-site and off-site erosion mitigation? (3) Which locations and types of studies are needed to fill critical gaps in knowledge and research? Three major categories of natural infrastructure were considered: restoration and protection of natural vegetation, such as forest or native grasslands, forestation with native or exotic species and implementation of soil and water conservation measures for erosion mitigation. From the suite of physical, chemical and biological indicators commonly used in soil erosion research, two indicators were particularly relevant: soil organic carbon of topsoil and soil loss rates at plot scale. The protection and conservation of natural vegetation has the strongest effect on soil quality, with 3.01±0.893 times higher soil organic carbon content in the topsoil compared to control sites. Soil quality improvements are significant but lower for forestation and soil and water conservation measures. Soil and water conservation measures reduce soil erosion to 62.1g %g ±g 9.2g %, even though erosion mitigation is highest when natural vegetation is maintained. Further research is needed to evaluate whether the reported effectiveness holds during extreme events related to, for example, El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)133-147
Número de páginas15
EstadoPublicada - 28 feb. 2022


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