Department of Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Birjand, Birjand, Iran


The proper use of natural resources can preserve these valuable assets. In line with the management of natural resources, land use optimization can be highly useful. The aim of the present study is to propose an appropriate integrative model for optimized allocation of lands for surface runoff and sediment load minimization and net income maximization in Bayg watershed, Iran. In this study, five categories of land uses, i.e. irrigated orchard, rangeland, irrigated farming, rainfed farming and almond orchard were spatially optimized to minimize surface runoff and sediment yield and to increase net income by integrating three approaches: weighted goal programming, analytic hierarchy process and multi-objective land allocation algorithm. To achieve the target levels in this work, the acreages of almond orchard and rainfed farming should be reduced by 100% and 37.32% respectively, and irrigated farming acreage should be increased by 138.53%. Through these alterations in the land use acreage, the sediment load will be reduced by 16.78% and net income will be improved by 72.52%. However, runoff volume will be increased by 0.22%. Results indicated that weighted goal programming satisfied 96% and 46% of the target levels of sediment load and net income respectively, but failed to reduce runoff volume. Therefore, it is necessary for managers to control runoff using the strategies related to runoff harvesting, especially on steep slopes. Generally, it can be concluded that a combination of the techniques weighted goal programming, analytic hierarchy process and multi-objective land allocation is highly capable to optimize land use and land covers based on the conflicting objectives.

Graphical Abstract

A GIS-based integrative approach for land use optimization in a semi-arid watershed


  • The high capability of the proposed integrative approach for land use optimization in a semi-arid watershed
  • The significant impact of soil properties on land use optimization, explored through analytic hierarchy process
  • The successful integration of economic objectives with environmental targets to assess land use allocation based on the soil suitability analysis
  • The significant acreage reduction in rainfed farming and almond orchard after optimization because of their substantial role in watershed sediment yield.


Main Subjects

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