Characterizing the Intensity and Dynamics of Land-Use Change in the Mara River Basin, East Africa

Forests. 2017;9(1):8 DOI 10.3390/f9010008

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Forests

ISSN: 1999-4907 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Science: Botany: Plant ecology

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML

 

AUTHORS

Hosea M. Mwangi (Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology & Center of Advanced Water Research (CAWR), Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden, Pienner Str. 19, 01737 Tharandt, Germany)
Padia Lariu (Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology & Center of Advanced Water Research (CAWR), Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden, Pienner Str. 19, 01737 Tharandt, Germany)
Stefan Julich (Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology & Center of Advanced Water Research (CAWR), Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden, Pienner Str. 19, 01737 Tharandt, Germany)
Sopan D. Patil (School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, UK)
Morag A. McDonald (School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, UK)
Karl-Heinz Feger (Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology & Center of Advanced Water Research (CAWR), Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden, Pienner Str. 19, 01737 Tharandt, Germany)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

The objective of this study was to analyze patterns, dynamics and processes of land-use/cover changes in the transboundary Mara River Basin in East Africa. We specifically focused on deforestation and expansion of agriculture in the watershed. The intensity analysis approach was used to analyze data from satellite imagery-derived land-use/cover maps. Results indicate that swap change accounted for more than 50% of the overall change, which shows a very dynamic landscape transformation. Transition from closed forest to open forest was found to be a dominant landscape change, as opposed to a random change. Similarly, transition from open forest to small-scale agriculture was also found to be a dominant transition. This suggests a trend (pathway) of deforestation from closed forest to small-scale agriculture, with open forest as a transitional land cover. The observed deforestation may be attributed to continuous encroachment and a series of excisions of the forest reserve. Transition from rangeland to mechanized agriculture was found to be a dominant land-use change, which was attributed to change in land tenure. These findings are crucial for designing strategies and integrated watershed management policies to arrest further deforestation in the forest reserves as well as to sustainably control expansion of agriculture.