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Accelerated soil erosion is thought to couple with population growth, land exploitation and environmental degradation, leading to a major pressure on sustainable development of agro-ecosystem. However, implementation of wise policy and application of sound new techniques combined with traditional knowledge, may lead to less soil erosion or limited erosion under the tolerable value while intensive land use or exploitation is adopted for the population and economic growth. Such process of breaking the link between “environmental bads” and “economic goods” was termed as “decoupling”. In the present paper, decoupling process of soil erosion from human activities has been analyzed with the conception of decoupling indicators on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Before 1949, intensive soil erosion, as indicated by the high suspended sediment yield in the Yellow River, was induced by the wars within the nation and against the invasion of foreign countries. A distinct decoupling occurred after 1949, especially since the 1980s because of adoption of watershed-based comprehensive soil-water conservation measures. It implies that soil erosion could be decoupled from intensive land use exploration and the increasing population by a wise policy. And the decoupling indicator could be a sensitive indicator for agri-environment assessment.
Journal: CATENA - Volume 68, Issue 1, 15 December 2006, Pages 10–15