Modelling sediment retention services and soil erosion changes in Portugal: A spatio-temporal approach

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Soils provide important regulating ecosystem services and have crucial implications for human well-being and environmental conservation. However, soil degradation and particularly soil erosion jeopardize the maintenance and existence of these services. This study explores the spatio-temporal relationships of soil erosion to understand the distribution patterns of sediment retention services in mainland Portugal. Based on Corine Land Cover maps from 1990 to 2018, the InVEST Sediment Delivery Ratio (SDR) model was used to evaluate the influence of sediment dynamics for soil and water conservation. Spatial differences in the sediment retention levels were observed within the NUTS III boundaries, showing which areas are more vulnerable to soil erosion processes. Results indicated that the Region of Leiria, Douro and the coastal regions have decreased importantly in sediment retention capacity over the years. However, in most of the territory (77.52%), changes in sediment retention were little or were not important (i.e., less than 5%). The statistical validation of the model proved the consistency of the results, demonstrating that the InVEST SDR model is an appropriate tool for estimating soil loss potential by water at regional/national levels, although having its limitations. These findings can be relevant to support strategies for more efficient land-use planning regarding soil erosion mitigation practices and to stimulate further investigation at a national level on this important ecosystem service.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Ecosystem services
  • InVEST model
  • Sediment retention
  • Soil erosion
  • Spatial modelling


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