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land use/ land cover, vegetation vigour, runoff, soil erosion, remote sensing, GIS


The paper discusses the applications of satellite remote sensing and GIS on characterization and spatial modeling of runoff and soil erosion of Birantiya Kalan, an arid watershed in the district of Pali, western Rajasthan. The watershed, with plains on the west and low to medium hills on the east, is among the watersheds selected under the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas by the Government of India in 1988. Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Data (IRS 1A/1B LISS II sensor) corresponding to pre-treatment (1988) and post-treatment (1996) periods were used to study changes in the land use/ land cover and vegetation status of the watershed. Suitable weightages were given for the relative response of different land use categories and vegetation types to various soil and water conservation measures adopted under the said project over the years (1988-1996). Composite values computed for land use/ land cover and changes in vegetation vigour indicated a marginal improvement during the period of study. Morphometric analysis revealed that the watershed might produce moderate to peak runoff in a short period. SCS Curve Number method and Universal Soil Loss Equation were applied with ARC/INFO-GIS to predict the potential runoff and soil erosion status of the watershed. An average of 50-70 mm (equivalent of 20-30 per cent of the rainfall) runoff was predicted. Soil erosion potential was found to be below the permissible limit and increase in the runoff and soil erosion potential was observed in 1996. Apart from using land use and vegetation vigour information, drainage buffer region was created to quantify the status of vegetation along drains. This approach, coupled with analyses of the corresponding data, could be used to suggest suitable recommendations for furthering soil and water conservation measures.