In this study, we assess quantitative soil loss in the Himalayan ecosystem of Uttarakhand, India using universal soil loss equation and geographic information system. The analysis shows that about 359,000 (6.71%), 473,000 (8.84%) and 1,750,000 ha (32.72%) area is under moderately severe (15–20 tonne ha–1 year–1), severe (20–40 tonne ha–1 year–1) and very severe (40–80 tonne ha–1 year–1) soil loss respectively. It clearly indicates that about 48.3% area of the state is above the tolerance limit of 11.2 tonne ha–1 year–1 of soil loss. This explains the need to undertake appropriate soil and water conservation measures to mitigate the topsoil loss in this fragile Himalayan ecosystem. Based on the degree of severity of soil loss, appropriate soil and water conservation measures need to be adopted on priority basis. The agriculture practices should be diversified with farm-forestry, agro-horticulture and/or agro-forestry to minimize soil loss in cultivated areas of the state. Such conservation programmes help mitigate accelerated soil erosion, restore the fragile ecosystems and generate employment opportunities for the needy.
Conservation Measures, Erodibility, Fragile Ecosystems, Geographic Information System, Universal Soil Loss Equation.