Determination of Soil Erosion and Sediment Yield in the Bonsa River Basin Using GIS and Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE)
The Bonsa river is an important tributary of the Ankobra river in the Western Region of Ghana. The catchment of the Bonsa river has been undergoing rapid land cover changes due to human activities such as farming, illegal mining, population growth, among others which are likely to promote soil erosion and sediment yield in the river basin. To estimate the amount of soil eroded over a period and subsequent sediment yielded along the Bonsa river basin, the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was integrated with Geographic Information System (GIS) to model the spatial distribution patterns in soil erosion and sediment yield within the catchment. Data used included annual rainfall records, soil map, Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and land-use map of the study area. Parameters of the model were determined and converted into raster layers using the raster calculator tool in ArcMap to produce a soil erosion map. The concept of Sediment Delivery Ratio (SDR) was applied to determine the annual sediment yield by combining a raster SDR layer with soil erosion map. The predicted soil loss and sediment yield values were found to be low. This may be due to high soil protective cover provided by vegetation as well as low topographic relief in the river basin. Though, the elements and processes responsible for soil erosion and sediment yield prevailing in the basin was found to be low, adverse situations could be developed with time if the prevailing conditions are not checked, as soil erosion is a natural gradual slow process. The gains made could be sustained by putting measures in place to control human activities, particularly, illegal mining (galamsey) in the basin, indiscriminate cutting down of trees and farmining activities along the Bansa river basin. This study will support monitoring, planning of water resources and help to improve sustainable water quality.