Modelling the effect of riparian vegetation restoration on sediment transport in a human‐impacted Brazilian catchment Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Soil erosion threatens both soil and water resources and has increased globally because of the removal of natural vegetation and the intensification of existing agriculture. Brazil is privileged by a large proportion of natural vegetation and abundant freshwater. Recently, modifications of the Brazilian Forest Act (BFA) have been approved, which offer landowners that had committed illegal riparian deforestation in the past amnesty from reforestation, and further reductions of riparian protected areas are currently discussed. Here, we used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to simulate river discharge and sediment exports in a typical human-impacted Brazilian catchment, the Rio das Mortes catchment. By restoring the riparian vegetation according to the BFA and ignoring amnesties to land owners, the current annual sediment export of the catchment of 0·830 t ha−1 was reduced by 29·4% according to our model. Further, simulated reforestation twice the size demanded by the BFA resulted in a 31·4% reduction of the current sediment export. However, reforestation of a 5-m homogeneous riparian corridor only, as currently discussed in the Federal Brazilian State of São Paulo, reduced sediment exports by only 23·8%, not considering expected additional erosion due to deforestation outside the simulated reforested 5-m corridor. Our study is the first catchment-wide assessment of the role of riparian vegetation in preventing soil erosion in Brazil. Its results support intensive reforestation efforts of the riparian zone and point to substantial negative effects of further reductions of the protected riparian corridor width and amnesties from reforestation to land owners. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Monteiro, J., Kamali, B., Srinivasan, R., Abbaspour, K., & Gücker, B.

citation count

  • 20

publication date

  • February 2016