The reduction effects of riparian reforestation on runoff and nutrient export based on AnnAGNPS model in a small typical watershed, China

  • Kaixia Jiang
  • Zhaofu LiEmail author
  • Chuan Luo
  • Min Wu
  • Ling Chao
  • Quansuo Zhou
  • Haiyan Zhao
Research Article


The continuous deterioration of the aquatic environment in rivers and streams is increasingly causing social and political tensions. To alleviate aquatic environmental problems, especially for the nonpoint source pollution, establishment of riparian forest buffers has been demonstrated as an effective control measure. However, few comprehensive studies of the reduction effects of riparian reforestation on the aquatic environment have been performed, particularly in identifying the suitable widths of reforestation projects. In this paper, the Annualized Agricultural Non-Point Source (AnnAGNPS) model was used to simulate the reduction effects of riparian reforestation on runoff and nutrient loads in Wucun watershed, China. The results showed that 20-m, 40-m, and 60-m widths of riparian buffer reforestation had significant effects on the yearly loads of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP), with reduced rates of 23.21 to 56.2% and 18.16 to 52.14%, respectively. The reduction effect on annual runoff varied from 2.8 to 5.4%. Furthermore, the reduction effect of nutrients performed best during the transition period, while the best runoff reduction was found during the dry period. These distinct reductions indicated that the implementation of riparian forest buffers was capable of reducing the risk and frequency of flooding and eutrophication, especially during the wet and transition periods. Additionally, the 20-m width of riparian buffer reforestation achieved the highest reduction efficiency for runoff, and the 40-m width was the most suitable reforested riparian buffer width for TN and TP. Therefore, 40 m may be the optimum buffer width for the implementation of riparian reforestation in the Wucun watershed. These research results provided scientific information on selecting the optimum buffer width for aquatic environmental regulators and managers as the reduction effects of different widths of riparian buffers on runoff and nutrients were different when considering buffer reforestation.


AnnAGNPS Buffer reforestation Runoff Nutrients Reduction rate and efficiency Optimum width 



We appreciate Professor Alexander Prishchepov for his kind help on the language editing.

Funding information

The authors received the fund required for the research from the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (41571171) and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Resources and EnvironmentXichang CollegeXichangChina

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