of China Australia Food Security Cooperation Initiative (CAFSCI)

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Regional impacts of re-vegetation on water resources of the Loess Plateau, China, and the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, Australia

Overview of Project

Western China’s Loess Plateau is a unique combination of soil type, slope and rainfall intensity. Much of the land is too steep for farming. Average farm sizes are small, often as little as 1.5 hectares. The most far-reaching problem for these farmers is soil erosion. Traditional tillage practices have served to further, rather than limit, erosion. Low levels of perennial vegetation and intense monsoonal summer rains, which dump more than half of the annual fall, also exacerbate the problems. Hydrology and erosion interactions are also elements found in the Murrumbidgee catchment in Australia. The project is working to optimise the impact of large-scale revegetation on the water resources of the Coarse Sandy Hilly Region of the Loess Plateau of western China, and in the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment of southeast Australia by developing software tools to predict the impact of revegetation strategies on the two regions.

Key Outcomes of Project

The key output from our successful project has been the development of a bilingual computer based simulation tool called ReVegIH (Re-Vegetation Impacts on Hydrology) that allows managers of terrestrial land use (forestry and agricultural) to understand the regional impacts of current and proposed plans to re-vegetate large areas of the Loess Plateau. While re-vegetation activities will assist controlling soil erosion, in the water limited Yellow River basin, off-sites impacts of reducing water yields need to be acknowledged and planned for. Additionally, to promote use of the tool by the land use managers, ReVegIH provides suitability assessments of 38 perennial tree and shrub species, and identifies priority and target areas where re-vegetation activities should occur.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2003 - 31 Dec 2005


Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation - China


Dr Tim McVicar



02 6246 5741

Launch Website