Date of Award
Master of Science
Edward R. Buckner
David Ostermeier, Robert Orr
Research was conducted in the Pindilig and Mazar Sub-watersheds of the Paute Watershed from January 1986 to January 1987. An original land-use classification scheme was developed according to the different land uses in the watershed study area and land-iase maps were made for the years 1963 and 1980 from aerial photography. Areas where land-use changes occurred were investigated to determine their stability and susceptibility to erosion. Elements of the Universal Soil Loss Equation were used as guidelines for assessing erosion hazards. Rills, gulleys, exposed root crowns and sediment deposits at the toe of slopes were used as indices for assessing soil loss. Interviews with local inhabitants were conducted to determine the reasons for changes in the use of the land. Discussions with small farmers aided in developing soil conservation approaches that included forestry.
Findings in this study indicate substantial increases in the use of more intensive land-use practices in the past two decades. Cropland and pasture expanded significantly into once stable forested areas. Expansion of agriculture onto steep slopes without the use of conservation practices has produced extreme erosion hazards for the network of cropland in the watershed. Various human factors were involved in provoking this destabilizing shift.
Discussions with small farmers living in the watershed revealed that the people of this area do have some concept of the value of trees. Observations of practices on their farms revealed the potential for using trees for (a) lining farm borders, (b) in agroforestry, (c) preserving standing trees for local use of timber, (d) in aforestation of paramo holdings and (e) for production of fruit for consumption or sale. Though many farmers were interested in trees, they also expressed their primary need as a lack of land. Thus, they intended to continue converting the forested land to cropland.
Clearing of forest for agriculture in order to satisfy the immediate needs of the farmer in the Mazar Watershed will undoubtedly continue. An improved road into the forest has resulted in accelerated timber cutting for commercial purposes. Farmers doubted the ability of government agencies to prevent clearing and government officials were unable to develop a practical strategy for controlling deforestation. The near absence of a natural tree cover and highly eroded lands in other parts of the Paute Watershed portend a similar fate for the Mazar Area, as agriculture continues to expand, soils erode and forest resources decline. Mobilization of the entire populous of the region in order to implement massive erosion control projects is needed to stabilize the Paute Watershed and insure its long-term productivity.
Davis, Robert Ragland, "Changing land use in the Mazar Watershed, Ecuador : its impact on soil erosion. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1989.