The level of soil degradation worldwide is alarming due to its potential for causing serious problems such as threatening food security. The sultanate of Oman faces the problem of soil erosion which also disturbs waterways, infrastructure and agriculture. The problem of soil erosion has become increasingly apparent in Oman and is due to inappropriate land management. This occurs particularly with dams where sedimentation is a common issue and in the aflaj water systems. Currently, there are no appropriate methods being practiced that would overcome the problem of soil erosion in Oman, and no specific studies are available that discuss suitable methods for soil protection in Oman. Therefore, this study is an initiative to overcome the problem of soil erosion in Oman by proposing the best soil erosion protection method using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). In order to achieve this goal, this study reviews different methods of preventing soil erosion and the factors governing their selection. The important and controlling factors were considered in an AHP model to rank the soil erosion protection methods. Based on the AHP model, pairwise comparisons were conducted with the help of 15 experts from different sectors including authorities responsible for soil conservation in Oman, decision-making governmental departments and research institutes. The results of the AHP analysis indicated that the most suitable soil erosion protection method, based on the considered factors, is erosion control fences, followed by protection of the gully head and revetment. As no previous studies on suitable methods for soil conservation in Oman exist, this study bridges the gap by providing valuable information on the best soil protection methods that could help soil conservation authorities in Oman as they decide about possible future strategies.The study also indicated that the AHP model is a suitable guiding framework for decision-making because it involves a group of experts for the selection of soil protection methods based on the situation in Oman.
soil erosion, soil protection, analytical hierarchy process, multi-criteria decision analysis
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