Assessment of soil erosion vulnerability in rural communities in the vicinity of Motozintla de Mendoza, Chiapas, Mexico : a physical and sociological approach
Soil erosion is a natural geological phenomenon resulting from removal and transportation of soil particles by water, wind, ice and gravity. As soil erosion may be affected from cultural factors as well. The physical and social phenomena of soil erosion are researched in six communities in the upper part of Rio Grijalva Basin in the vicinity of Motozintla de Mendoza, Chiapas, Mexico. For this study, the USDA RUSLE model was applied to estimate soil erosion rates in the six communities based on the available data. The RUSLE model is based on soil properties, topography, and land cover and management factors. These results showed that estimated soil erosion rates ranged from a high of 2,050 metric ton ha-1 yr-1 to a low of 100 metric ton ha-1 yr-1. A survey concerning knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) related to soil erosion was also conducted in all 236 households in the six communities. The main findings of the KAP survey were: 69% of respondents did not know what soil erosion was, while over 40% of the population perceived that hurricanes are the biggest factors that cause soil erosion, and about 20 % of the interviewees said that the landslides are the consequences of the soil erosion. People in communities did not perceive cultural factors as important in conservation efforts for reduce vulnerability to erosion; therefore, the results obtained are suggested to be useful for informing efforts to educate stakeholders.