The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is easily recognisable by the vegetation cover as Haiti loses much more soil every year than the Dominican Republic.
Photo: UNEP


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ETH Zurich researchers of the Swiss ETH Zurich are re-examining the causes of soil erosion around the world – and have found that countries themselves have a surprisingly strong influence on their soil. This country effect was previously undetected.

Soil erosion has a whole host of causes, many of which are still not well understood. As yet, we don’t know, for example, whether and indeed how different countries influence the erosion of their soils. Research so far has focused on identifying correlations, such as the fact that erosion is more severe in poor countries than in rich ones. Identifying causal effects, on the other hand, has been and remains very difficult.

Remote sensing and modelling of soil erosion

David Wüpper and Robert Finger from the Group for Agricultural Economics and Policy at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and Pasquale Borrelli from the University of Basel also in Switzerland, have now employed satellite imagery and numerous other data sources to investigate the socio-economic causes of soil erosion around the world.

On the basis of high-resolution remote sensing data and numerous other data sources, the researchers created an erosion map of the world.

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