Land use changes extensively affect soil erosion, which is a great environmental concern. To evaluate the effect of land use change on soil erosion in fast economic developing areas, we studied land use changes of Guangdong, China, from 2002 to 2009 using remote sensing and estimated soil erosion using the Universal Soil Loss Equation. We calculated the areas and percentage of each land use type under different erosion intensity and analyzed soil erosion changes caused by transitions of land use types. In addition, the impact of land use change on soil erosion in different river catchments was studied. Our results show that forest and wasteland land conversions induce substantial soil erosion, while transition from wasteland to forest retards soil loss. This suggests that vegetation cover changes significantly influence soil erosion. Any conversion to wasteland causes soil erosion, whereas expansion of forests and orchards mitigates it. The most significant increase in soil erosion from 2002 to 2009 was found in the Beijiang catchment corresponding to the transition from forest/orchard to built-up and wasteland. Soil erosion in the Xijiang catchment accelerated in this period due to the enormous reduction in orchard land. In Hanjiang catchment, erosion was alleviated and vegetation coverage greatly expanded owing to considerable transitions from wasteland and cropland to orchards. Field investigations validated our estimations and proved the applicability of this method. Measures including protecting vegetation, strict control of mining as well as reasonable urban planning should be taken to prevent successive soil erosion.