Characteristics of water erosion and conservation practice in arid regions of Central Asia: Xinjiang Province, China as an example

Wentai Zhang, Jianqin Zhou, Guanglong Feng, David C. Weindorf, Guiqing Hu, Jiandong Sheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Located in the inland arid area of Central Asia and northwest China, Xinjiang has recently received heightened concerns over soil water erosion, which is highly related with the sustainable utilization of barren soil and limited water resources. Data from the national soil erosion survey of China (1985–2011) and Xinjiang statistical yearbook (2000–2010) was used to analyze the trend, intensity, and serious soil water erosion regions. Results showed that the water erosion area in Xinjiang was 87.6×103 km2 in 2011, mainly distributed in the Ili river valley and the northern and southern Tian Mountain. Soil erosion gradient was generally slight and the average erosion modulus was 2184 t/(km2 a). During the last 26 years, the water erosion area in Xinjiang decreased by 23.2%, whereas the intensity was still increasing. The driving factors from large to small impact included: population boom and human activities>vegetation degradation>rainfall and climate change>topography and soil erodibility>tectonics movement. Soil water erosion resulted in eco-environmental and socioeconomic losses, such as destroying farmland and grassland, triggering floods, sedimentation of reservoirs, damaging transportation and irrigation facilities, and aggravating poverty. A landscape ecological design approach is suggested for integrated control of soil erosion. Currently, an average of 2.07×103 km2 of formerly eroded area is conserved each year. This study highlighted the importance and longevity of soil and water conservation efforts in Xinjiang, and offered some suggestions on ecological restoration and combating desertification in arid regions of Central Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Soil and Water Conservation Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Arid region
  • Ecological restoration
  • Soil and water conservation
  • Soil water erosion
  • Xinjiang


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