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Watershed Characteristics

Module by: Gandhiv Kafle. E-mail the author

Summary: This module describes the biophysical and socioeconomic features prevalent in a watershed.


By Gandhiv Kafle, email:

Watershed characteristics refer to the biophysical and socioeconomic features prevalent in a watershed.

The watershed characteristics need to be identified for management planning of the area.

The characteristics of watershed can be broadly categorized into:

  • Climate
  • Geology and physiography
  • Soils
  • Land use and cover conditions
  • Watershed hydrology
  • Socio-economic features/watershed use



  • Precipitation
  • Evaporation
  • Wind
  • Relative humidity etc.


  • Size and shape of watershed
  • Elevation
  • Slope and aspect


  • Drainage features (pattern, density, etc.)
  • Parent rock types (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic)


  • Soil depth
  • Soil type
  • Soil infiltration capacity
  • Soil erosiveness etc.


  • Land use types (forest, grassland, agriculture, urban, etc.)
  • Ownership pattern (government, private, industrial)
  • Forest land conditions (including fire history and past use where applicable)
  • Major forest types
  • Rangeland condition and types
  • Agricultural practices
  • Road networks and condition
  • Recreational use (resort use, wildlife resource, fish resource, etc.)


  • Erosion conditions along streams
  • Floods
  • Stream flow (quantity and quality)


  • Water use and needs (sources of water, domestic use, irrigation, industrial, power generation, etc.)
  • Water use problems (erosion, flooding, siltation, water supply, water quality, etc.)
  • Income generation activities associated with watershed management

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