Ecosystem services provision by gully control. A review

A. Romero-Díaz, E. Díaz-Pereira, J. De Vente


Gully erosion causes severe damage to crops and infrastructures and affects the provision of ecosystem services worldwide. To assess the potential of gully control measures to protect ecosystem services and assess the conditions required for their large-scale implementation, this paper critically evaluates a range of gully control measures documented in the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT). Environmental and socio-economic impacts of technologies are assessed, as well as the implications for ecosystem services, costs and benefits of implementation, and stakeholder’s perception. It is demonstrated how gully control measures provide notable on-site and off-site benefits for socio-economic, cultural, ecological, and production goals, and to protect crucial ecosystem services. Control measures particularly contribute to soil and water conservation and to regulating ecosystem services by controlling soil erosion, water cycling, and natural hazards. Most effective control measures consist of combined vegetative and structural measures and of catchment wide interventions. While implementation of gully control can initially be expensive, on the long term, the cost-benefit ratio is usually positive. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of evaluating control measures considering monetary aspects and all ecosystem services they provide. Nevertheless, individual farmers can often not afford the implementation and maintenance costs due to barriers for implementation and therefore require sustained institutional support. 


ecosystem services; gully control; soil and water conservation; sustainable land management; WOCAT

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