Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth, Environmental and Geospatial Sciences

First Advisor

Yuri Gorokhovich


Land degradation from soil erosion is a major issue in hilly areas of tropical regions such as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. The combination of an elevated topography, high-intensity storms that are further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, and farming practices increase the susceptibility of the region to soil erosion. The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was developed in the mid-latitude dry climate zone of the United States during the 1990s to assist soil conservationists in implementing farming strategies that would address soil loss. Since then, researchers employed remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to expand the applicability of RUSLE to other parts of the world including tropical regions. This study aims to apply RUSLE with remote sensing and GIS to estimate soil erosion rates in the study area watershed situated within the CHT. The average annual soil erosion rate in the watershed was found to be approximately 14.98 tons/ha while the maximum annual rate is 1,436.10 tons/ha. The results of the watershed based analysis informed the development of a management strategy for the study area. This management plan was based on landuse/landcover, and slope that targeted areas of moderate to high soil erosion rates (high priority areas) that experience soil loss of more than 15 tons/ha/yr. The management plan showed that afforestation would be appropriate for a majority of these high priority areas with steep slopes of at least 37%, hedgerow cropping and shifting cultivation in mid-range slopes, and agriculture in low-lying areas.



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