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Research Article Open Access

Drivers of Land Use/Land Cover Change in the Guraferda District of Bench-Maji Zone, Southwestern Ethiopia


Land use/land cover change (LULCC) analysis is the major important information required for planning and decision making. However, up to date information on drivers of LULCC in Guraferda district is found to be lacking. Therefore, this study was conducted to identify types as well as extent of LULCC within three decades and its drivers in the district. Information was extracted from three periods of Landsat imagery (1984 /ETM/, 2001/ETM+/, and 2015/OLI/ image) for LULCC analysis. Socio-economic data were collected through household survey, key informant interviews, and group discussions. Analysis of data was accomplished through the use of ERDAS imagine (version 9.1), ArcGIS (version 10.1), and SPSS (version 20) along with Microsoft Excel software. For 1984 and 2001 landsat images, four LULC classes namely shrub/bush land, grass land, natural forest, and agricultural land/settlement while one additional LULC class (plantation coffee) were identified for 2015 LULCC analysis. Results from LULCC analysis showed a significant transformation of LULC classes for the respective years. In 1984, grassland, shrub/bush land, and natural forest covered 30.4%, 33.8%, and 35.2% of the total area (2565.42km2), respectively. However, agricultural land/settlement shared 0.6% of the district area at the same time. In 2001, natural forest declined to 29.86%, whereas grassland, shrub/bush land, and agricultural land/settlement increased to 31.61%, 37.14%, and 1.39%, respectively. After three decades, in 2015, agricultural land/settlement increased to 18.35% of the area while grass land, shrub/bush land, and natural forest decreased to 27.37%, 18.11%, and 25.76% of the district total area, respectively. At the same time new land use type (plantation coffee) have emerged and increased to10.41% of the district area. Findings of this study showed the existence of LULCC with a significant expansion of agricultural land/settlement and plantation coffee while decreasing trends of shrub/bush land, grass land, and natural forest. Resettlement, agricultural investment, government policies, poor governances within the district, subsistence agricultural land expansion, fuel wood collection, wood extraction for house construction, wildfire, and land certification problems were identified as a driver of those LULCC in the district. Thus, the study concluded the interaction of proximate and underlying causes forced the district to LULCC.

Belay Haile Gessese

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