Landscape Planning and Management tool (LAPMAT)

This is a user-friendly Landscape Planning and Management Tool (LAPMAT) developed to facilitate land management decision-making. LAPMAT is a menu-oriented interactive graphical user interface that can aid decision makers identify hotspot areas of soil erosion and evaluate the effects of alternative land use management practices at a catchment scale. The modelling framework and its interfaces are designed to guide the user through a series of menus that: 1) allow input model parameters, adjusting coefficients, visualizing input parameters and executing the model; 2) enable changing land use and management practices and re-evaluating potential consequences; 3) allow viewing results in tabular, graphical or map form side-by-side; and 4) (re)-evaluating the respective impacts of management/conservation options.

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In what context is this tool useful?

In a context where land and water degradation due to on-site soil/nutrient loss and off-site pollution/sedimentation are serious environmental problems. This can be aggravated due to the absence of reliable data at appropriate resolution and differences in the methods used, what it generates discrepancies in soil erosion estimates at both continental and basin levels.

Results achieved

LAPMAT has been applied to assess the severity of soil erosion and simulate the impact of different land management practices using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) adjusted for sediment delivery ratio in an example catchment of northern Ethiopia. The results showed average sediment yield rate of 55 t ha−1 y−1. Conservation measures targeted at high soil loss areas and gullies gave the maximum reduction in sediment yield by about 80 %.

A study in the in the Mo River Basin (Togo, West Africa) revealed that planning and management measures targeting the enclosure of erosion hotspots can potentially reduce soil loss up to 90% for slope classes of 5–10° and 15–25°. The application of this erosion model in the Mo Basin showed sufficient insights in identifying soil erosion-prone areas and judging the severity of the average soil loss in comparison with tolerable limits. The particularity of this model was its capabilities to integrate soil erosion dynamic in relation with land use cover types and landform features and to generate timely spatially explicit information. The novelty of the research resides in the integration of rural opinions in the assessment of the final simulation outputs.

Since LAPMAT allows users handle the selection of management/planning options and provide fast and responsive outputs, it can assist in effective multi-stakeholder negotiations over land-use planning where the minimization of land/water degradation is the ultimate goal.