Increasing Soil Erosion Threatens Western Ghats Biodiversity

  • 20 Nov 2023

Recently, a study by IIT Bombay reveals a staggering 94% increase in soil erosion in the Western Ghats Region (WGR) from 1990 to 2020, posing a severe threat to the biodiversity hotspot.

Key Points

  • Tamil Nadu's Disturbing Trend: Tamil Nadu experienced the highest soil loss rate at 121%, indicating the worst-case scenario among the Western Ghats states.
  • Unique Landscape under Threat: The WGR, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and biodiversity hotspot, faces challenges due to unsustainable and unplanned activities, as highlighted in the study.
  • Remote Sensing Data for Assessment: The study, a first-of-its-kind, utilized remote sensing data to quantify long-term soil losses, confirming a progressive increase in erosion rates and alarming state-wise trends.
  • Net Increase of 94%: The figures show a net increase of 94% in soil erosion, emphasizing the detrimental impact on the region's globally significant biodiversity.
  • State-Wise Soil Loss Rates: Tamil Nadu recorded the highest soil loss rate (121%), while Kerala and Karnataka witnessed increases at 90% and 56%, respectively.
  • Methodology: Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE): The researchers employed the USLE method, considering factors such as rainfall, topography, soil erodibility, land cover management, and conservation practices, providing a novel assessment at the scale of the WGR.