Background: Information on soil loss and sediment export is essential to identify hotspots of soil erosion for conservation interventions in a given watershed. This study aims at investigating the dynamic of soil loss and sediment export associated with land use/land cover change and identifies soil loss hotspot areas in Winike watershed of Omo-gibe basin of Ethiopia. Spatial data collected from satellite images, topographic maps, meteorological and soil data were analyzed. Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) of sediment delivery ratio (SDR) model was used based on analysis of land use/land cover maps and RUSLE factors.
Result: The results showed that total soil loss increased from 774.86 thousand tons in 1988 to 951.21 thousand tons in 2018 while the corresponding sediment export increased by 3.85 thousand tons in the same period. These were subsequently investigated in each land-use type. Cultivated fields generated the highest soil erosion rate, which increased by 10.02 t/ha/year in 1988 to 43.48 t/ha/year in 2018. This corresponds with the expansion of the cultivated area that increased from 44.95 thousand ha in 1988 to 59.79 thousand ha in 2018. This is logical as the correlation between soil loss and sediment delivery and expansion of cultivated area is highly significant (p<0.01). Sub-watershed six (SW-6) generated the highest soil loss (62.77 t/ha/year) and sediment export 16.69 t/ha/year, followed by Sub-watershed ten (SW-10) that are situated in the upland plateau. Conversely, the lower reaches of the watershed are under dense vegetation cover and experiencing less erosion.
Conclusion: Overall, the changes in land use/land cover affect significantly the soil erosion and sediment export dynamism. This research is used to identify an area to prioritize the watershed for immediate management practices. Thus, land use policy measures need to be enforced to protect the hydropower generation dams at downstream and the ecosystem at the watershed.