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Bright side? The impacts of Three Gorges Reservoir on local ecological service of soil conservation in southwestern China

Update time: 06/13/2017

Three Gorges Reservoir in China was running since June 2003, and its impacts on soil erosion (SE) and soil conservation (SC) have attracted major public attentions. We quantified the soil conservation service of ecosystems in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area (TGRA) based on a GIS platform using the universal soil loss equation. We revealed the changes of spatial and temporal patterns of soil conservation (SC) and soil erosion (SE) after project construction as well as impact factors on local SE and SC. Results showed that the total amounts and mean capacity of soil conservation services in the TGRA were 15.38-billion t a(-1) and 2134.73 t ha(-1) a(-1), respectively. Northeast reservoir area owned better services than the southwest, and the regions with a capacity of [ 5000 t ha(-1) a(-1) were primary located in mountain areas. An increasing trend in SC appeared in the TRGA and "with increasing SC'' totaled 22690.5 km(2) (38.9%), while the areas "with decreasing SC'' amounted to 3460.4 km(2) (5.9%) between 2000 and 2010. Moreover, the pattern of changing SC was continuous in this area. The spatial characteristics of soil conservation service in the TGRA were primarily affected by slope, climate and terrain features. In addition, the reforestation and/or forest protection would contribute to soil erosion control in the TGRA. The results revealed a great spatial heterogeneity of soil conservation service in this region, which may provide useful suggestions for land management, soil erosion control and ecosystem protection in the TGRA in China.