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Land Degradation and Soil Conservation on the Moldavian Plateau, Romania

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The Moldavian Plateau, located in eastern Romania and extending about 27,000 square kilometers, is one of the most severely eroded agricultural areas in the country. Clayey-sandy Miocene-Pliocene layers with a gentle gradient of 7–8 m km-1 NNW-SSW have outcropped from sedimentary substratum (Jeanrenaud, 1971). The climate is temperate continental with a mean annual temperature of 8.0 – 9.8 °C. Average annual precipitation varies from about 460 millimeters at the lower elevation in the southern part to 670 millimeters in the central and northwestern area with elevations up to 587 meters. Natural vegetation cover was drastically changed by man particularly during the last two centuries. Mollisols and argiluvisols (forest soils) are among the most common soils and have been used for crop production. The main land use stratification is cropland (58%), pastures and meadows (16%) and forest (13%).

Under these circumstances, at present soil erosion, gullying, landslides and sedimentation have been recognized as major environmental threats. The total erosion is averaging 15 – 30 t ha-1 yr-1. By 1960, the traditional agricultural system on slopes consisted of up-and-down hill farming. Most of the land was excessively split into small plots, each under one hectare in size. Since 1960, awareness of soil erosion and the adoption of conservation practices has increased. By the end of 1989 as much 0.9 million hectares, representing 71 percent of the agricultural land with erosion potential were adequately protected under different conservation practices. Romania's new land property Law Number 18/1991 has resulted in the revival of the old traditional up-and-down hill farming.

In order to evaluate the severity of erosion and sedimentation there was a need to get reliable information. Current methods of erosion and deposition assessment may be divided into three approaches, namely longterm monitoring of experimental plots, repeated field survey of gully erosion features, and field measurements to identify spatial patterns of sedimentation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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