Map of soil erosion risk (partial cover)


Map of soil erosion risk (partial cover)
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The map shows the risk of a bare soil being eroded by water under intense or prolonged rainfall and primarily covers the cultivated land in Scotland. Soils with mineral topsoils have been classified separately from those with organic (peaty) surface layers. The risk of soil erosion is shown in 3 main classes for soils with mineral topsoils; High, Moderate or Low. The risk of erosion is greatest on coarse textured soils with a low water adsorption capacity on steep slopes. Each main class is divided into 3 subclasses (H1-3, M1-3 and L1-3) with the greater numbers in each risk class indicating a higher risk of erosion due to increases in slope, soil textures becoming more coarse and/or the soils having a lesser ability to absorb rainfall. The risk of soil erosion for soils with organic (peaty) surfaces is also shown in 3 classes; High, Moderate or Low. The Moderate and Low erosion risk classes are divided into subclasses (Mi–iv and Li-iii) with the greater numbers (i-iv) in each risk class indicating a higher risk of erosion due to increases in slope and/or the soils having a lesser ability to absorb rainfall.

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  • erosionsoil erosion
GEMET - INSPIRE themes, version 1.0 ( Theme )
  • Soil
Use limitation
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No limitations on public access
Topic category
  • Farming
  • Geoscientific information
Geographic identifier

Scotland (partial cover)


2018-04-19 2018-04-19
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Vertical CRS

Reference system identifier
/ OSGB_1936_Transverse_Mercator

Distribution format
  • Esri shapefile ( 10 )


The susceptibility to erosion based on soil texture and capacity to absorb rainfall was combined with the slope to determine how erosive the overland flow could be with steeper slopes leading to faster runoff. Each of the soils that occur in the Soil Map of Scotland (partial cover) dataset was assessed in terms of topsoil texture and grouped in broad categories with the more coarse textured soils being most susceptible to breaking down under intense or prolonged rainfall. The soil’s ability to absorb rainfall varies depending on the soil porosity, depth to a slowly permeable layer and inherent wetness (derived from the Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification (Boorman et al., 1995)). The Land Cover of Scotland map (LCS88) was used to identify which soils were likely to be uncultivated and have an organic topsoil from those that were likely to be cultivated or uncultivated and have a mineral topsoil. Where the LCS88 map showed a mixture of both semi-natural and cultivated land cover, the latter was taken to represent the land cover class. The slope characteristics were derived from the Ordnance Survey Open data 50m DTM, OS data © Crown copyright and database right (2017). The map is a 50m raster grid. Where the soil map units were described as complexes (that is, more than one soil type is found in the area), the precautionary principle was applied and the soil within the complex most at risk of erosion was used to describe the whole map unit. Boorman, D.B., Hollis, J.M and Lilly, A. 1995. Hydrology of soil types: a hydrologically-based classification of the soils of the United Kingdom. Institute of Hydrology Report No.126. Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford. ( ) Lilly, A & Baggaley, N.J., 2014. Developing simple indicators to assess the role of soils in determining risks to water quality, CREW project number CD2012_42. ( ) Lilly, A., Hudson, G., Birnie, R.V. and Horne, P.L. 2002. Inherent geomorphological risk of soil erosion by overland flow in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research, Survey and Monitoring Report No.183.


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1a9302f1-b65e-40ae-8718-a4820cf70d1d metadataInXML
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