Assessment of the erosion control function of forest ecosystems based on GIS: a case study in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

Zhao, T. Q., et al., 2009. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology

Original research (primary data)
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Erosion control is one of the most important functions of forest ecosystems, and its accurate assessment is useful to illuminate the importance of forest ecosystem services for humans so as to rationally conserve forest resources. This paper examines Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the first national forest park in China, to seek practical methods for assessment of the forest erosion control function using a geographical information system (GIS). The results show that the potential and actual amounts of soil erosion are 2.92 million ton and 0.14 million ton per year, respectively, in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The total reduction in soil loss reaches 2.77 million ton per year with the existence of a forest ecosystem. The erosion control function of near mature, mature and over mature broadleaf forest is excellent, and natural forest conservation and natural restoration of the degraded forest ecosystem can provide the largest benefits in soil erosion control. Nearly all the near mature, mature and over-mature forest in the park is at the top and in steep mountain areas, and could be rationally cut and utilized by local communities, but extensive timber felling should be strictly prohibited.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-132-1
  • Intervention type: Protection
  • Intervention description:

    Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Soil erosion  Positive Reduction in soil loss (ton a-1)
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, instituted in 1982, is in the middle Wulingshan Mountains of northwest Hunan Province, China

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Tropical and subtropical forests | Montane/Alpine |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: Effectiveness determined by comparing the actual erosion to a modeled 'potential erosion' if there was no forest in the given area as well as to plantation forests
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: Yes
  • Experimental evalution done: In-situ/field
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Study is systematic: