Daniel Ayalew Mengistu

Rapport/ Report

Remote sensing and gis-based Land use and land cover change detection in the upper Dijo river catchment, Silte zone, southern Ethiopia
Working papers on population and land use change in central Ethiopia, nr. 17
Acta Geographica-Trondheim Serie A, Nr. 23 Series A, No. 23 Avhandlinger og rapporter/Theses and reports 2008

NTNU Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet Fakultet for samfunnsvitenskap og teknologiledelse Geografisk institutt

Innovation and Creativity

Addis Ababa University

REMOTE SENSING AND GIS-BASED LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGE DETECTION IN THE UPPER DIJO RIVER CATCHMENT, SILTE ZONE, SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA

DANIEL AYALEW MENGISTU

ABSTRACT
Land use and land cover (LULC) change is one of the challenges which strongly influence the process of agricultural development and the food security situation in Ethiopia in general and in the Upper Dijo River catchment in particular. Remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) are important for the monitoring, modelling and mapping of land use and land cover changes across a range of spatial and temporal scales, in order to assess the extent, direction, causes, and effects of the changes. The changes in land use and land cover which occurred between 1972 and 2004 in the Upper Dijo River catchment, located in the middle Rift Valley system of Ethiopia, were monitored using such advanced spatial technologies, supplemented by field verification. The study area covered 55.7 km2, and had previously undergone substantial land use and land cover changes, mainly due to high population pressure. The main objective of the study was to assess and evaluate the extent and direction of changes in LULC in the Upper Dijo River catchment, to explain the changes and identify some of their effects on both the livelihoods of the local people and the local environment, and also to explore some of the conservation measures designed to overcome problems associated with land use and land cover changes. Aerial photographs taken in 1972, an EROS-1 satellite image from late 2004 and also geographic information system (GIS) techniques were used to monitor the changes and to generate maps of the LULC of the area in these periods. Information on the socio-economic conditions of 120 selected households and the results of tests on soil samples taken from a depth of 30 cm at four different land use sites were used to identify the underlying factors and explain the effects of LULC changes. Observations showed that in the 32-year period between 1972 and 2004 shrub-grassland and riverine trees covers had decreased at a rate of 21.5 and 16.3 ha per year respectively. Riverine trees suffered the greatest devastation and by 2004 had been reduced to only 16% of their cover in 1972. In contrast, eucalyptus tree plantations, annual crops and bare land/open grassland cover increased at a rate of 2.8, 12.5 and 24.8 ha per year, respectively. Correspondingly, bare land/open grassland increased by 344.5% at the expense of shrinking shrub grasslands, and have expanded in uninhabited areas. Growing population pressure and its associated problems, such as the increasing demand for land and trees, poor institutional and socio-economic settings, and also unfavourable government policies, such as lack of land tenure security and poor infrastructure development, have been the major driving forces behind the LULC changes. Hence, special attention should be given to the introduction of wise land resource uses and management practices, secure land possession systems, regulated population growth, and integrated environmental rehabilitation programmes. The existing tree plantation practices should be encouraged by promoting the planting of indigenous tree species, rather than eucalyptus trees, in order to enhance ecological harmony. Keywords: Ethiopia, GIS, land use changes, land cover changes, population pressure, remote sensing Acknowledgements: The study was supported by the NUFU-funded research and collaboration programme ‘Population growth and land use changes in Central Ethiopia’.

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Kebrom & Hedlund (2000) also reported an increase in open grazing areas developing at the expense of shrublands and forests in the Kalu area. Developments in testing methods and differing abilities to use land resources often give rise to changes in land use and land cover (LULC). pattern. Muluneh 2003. land use change and patterns of agricultural productivity in EzanWollen and Cheha Wereda’s Sabat-bet Guragheland’. particularly in the highland part of the country. Woldeamlak 2002. These reports have shown heterogeneity in the changes in type. see also Muluneh. At times such changes have beneficial while at other times they have had detrimental and adverse impacts on the environment and people’s livelihoods (Briassoulis 2000).INTRODUCTION Land is the platform on which most human activities are performed and is the source of many of materials needed for such activities. 2000. For instance. 2 . Gete (1997) and Belay (2002) reported a serious trend in land degradation resulting from the expansion of cultivated land at the expense of forestlands in Dembecha in north-western Ethiopia and in the Derekoli watershed in South Wollo. Unpublished MA thesis. Most of these studies indicated that deforestation and encroachment of cultivation into marginal areas were the major causes of land degradation. It is the most important natural resource for countries such as Ethiopia. where the economy depends greatly upon the agricultural sector. and in the Chemoga River watershed in north-western Ethiopia. Addis Ababa. direction. Kebrom & Hedlund 2000. Addis Ababa University. Research conducted in Ethiopia has shown that there were considerable LULC changes in the country during the second half of the 20th century (Solomon 1994. Belay 2002. Woien 1995. Department of Geography. 1 W. Rotational LULC involving cultivation and vegetation (forest and bush) was practised in the Metu area of south-western Ethiopia (Solomon 1994). unpublished data 1994 1). Muluneh (1994) ‘Population pressure. Gete 1997. and unpublished data 1994) and Woldeamlak (2002) have reported an increase in wood lots (eucalyptus tree plantations) and cultivated land at the expense of grazing land in both Sebat-bet Gurage land in south-central Ethiopia. Crummey 1998. Rembold et al. north-central Ethiopia. In contrast. and magnitude of LULC in the country and have revealed the difficulty of extrapolating the known trends to areas that have not been surveyed. Muluneh (2003.

the interaction between land use and population was complex. is probably the only one to have been carried out in the Rift Valley area. and it comprised a variety of physiographic features. However. region-specific information of such changes in LULC is essential for land use planning aiming at wise resource management and to maximize the productivity of both agricultural and non-agricultural land at both regional and national levels. the Upper Dijo River catchment. and in order to evaluate the magnitude and direction of the changes the aim was to determine whether or not the changes are favourable.Hence. a 1. large-scale analysis of LULC changes in a small river catchment. 2 Ethiopia. the present study was carried out in the upper part of Dijo River catchment in Silte Zone. this paper is the result of a detailed. The exceptions are those by Muluneh (2003.’s (2000) study. STUDY OBJECTIVES 2 Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR) is one of the major national regions found in the southern part of Ethiopia (Fig.8 m resolution panchromatic EROS satellite image taken in 2004. and to identify the forces working behind the changes and the ensuing effects on the livelihood of the people and their environment. In order to fill this gap. in particular. (2000). for which it is extremely difficult to make generalizations or doing so might lead to erroneous conclusions. and also geographic information systems (GIS) in conjunction with conventional techniques. Solomon (1994) and Rembold et al. 3 . SNNPR. This implies there is a gap in terms of spatial representation in land use and land cover change studies in the country. Many of the aforementioned studies were conducted in the northern-central highlands of the country. Rembold et al. its magnitude was open for in-depth study. in Ethiopia information on these changes is either lacking or unavailable for many small areas of land. 1994). was selected for research mainly because it had previously undergone substantial land use and land cover changes. The study was carried out using aerial photographs taken in 1972 and enlarged to a scale of 1:12000. The aim of the study was to address the issues of LULC changes in general. The study area. Unlike most of the aforementioned studies. it was subject to high population pressure. and unpublished data. 1).

4 . SNNPR. 1). and has a total area of 55. is located 164 km south of Addis Ababa. in the newly structured Silte Zone.7 km2 (Fig. (ii) investigate the proximate and underlying causes of LULC changes and their subsequent impacts on the environment and livelihoods of the people. the aim of the study was to: (i) identify and map the extent of LULC changes over a period of three decades. which in turn is part of the main Ethiopian Rift Valley system. Specifically.The main objective of the study was to assess and evaluate the extent and direction of changes in the LULC of the Upper Dijo River catchment and to explain the changes and identify some of the effects of the changes on both the livelihoods of the people and the local environment. STUDY AREA BACKGROUND Location and size: The study area. between 7°51′N – 7°59′N and 38°12′E – 38°15′E. and also to explore some of the conservation measures practised by local people to overcome problems associated with land use and land cover changes in the area. and (iii) examine farmers’ responses to the impacts of LULC changes in the area. It forms the western portion of the Shalla Lake drainage system.

geology and soils: The Upper Dijo River catchment. In addition. and is bordered by steep slopes toward the escarpment on its northern side. located on the western edge of the main Ethiopian Rift Valley escarpment. The area is dissected by several small streams that rise from the eastern edge of the Shewan Plateau and western escarpment side. The elevation falls from about 2900 to. 2000 masl.Figure: 1 Location map of the study area: the Upper Dijo River catchment. the topography of the area is highly influenced by structural faults. Physiology. is characterized by partly swelling and generally undulating surface features in its central part but has almost flat topography in southern reaches toward the Ethiopian Rift Valley floor. 5 .

the evolution of present-day landscape features is generally attributed to recent geological events of Tertiary and Quaternary volcanic episodes and tectonic activity that occurred during the Upper Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene epochs and also between the late Quaternary and the present. and Eutric Vertisols (Abyiot 2005 3). It comprised a type of woodland and savanna vegetation where scattered trees 3 Abyiot Legesse was one of the four members of a research team who surveyed the problem of soil degradation under the auspices of a NUFU research project run by the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies at Addis Ababa University (AAU) in collaboration with the Department of Geography at NTNU. Luvic Phaeozems. the geology of the area consists of Tertiary intermediate to basic volcanites resting on Mesozoic sediments and Precambrian basements. Chromic Cambisols. These faults are down-thrown and have resulted in the submergence of the lands on the sloping sides of the fault lines. On the basis of the information obtained from field survey and the results of laboratory analyses. These volcanic materials are either in situ or have been reworked by different geomorphic agents. Trondheim. Rhodic Nitosols. In addition. However. faulting occurred during and after these epochs and the subsequent degradation processes have been responsible for reshaping the landforms of the study area. Haplic Nitosols. They are mainly per-alkaline rhyolitic ignimbrites interlayered with basalt and tuffs (Di Paola 1972 quoted in Sagri & Getahun 1998). 1). Also. Vegetation and climate: The original vegetation type of the study area was woodland savanna (Zemede 1998). the area is generally volcanic terrain which has been affected by volcanism since the Pliocene and Quaternary periods. minor faults aligned NNE–SSW have led to the formation of very steep sloping land on the back slope of the study area. 6 . The major faults passing though the middle of the study area are partly responsible for the overall appearance of the landscape in general and the study area in particular (Fig. The whole area is covered by a huge volume of silicic pyroclastic materials and scoria cones. In general. resulting in fissures and conical eruptions (Sagri & Getahun 1998).The landscape has undergone a series of geomorphic processes. six major soil units were identified: Haplic Phaeozems. With regard to the geology.

6 B. the pressure on existing natural resources is expected to intensify in the area. The area has a mean annual temperature of 18°C and a mean annual rainfall of 1319 mm. The counting of tukuls from the EROS satellite image taken in 2004 showed that there were 2535 houses. unpublished data 2004 6). Hence. This in turn created new demands for additional space. which is based on rainfall. due to deforestation. 5 4 7 . According to the traditional agro-climatic zonation.000 topographic map of the area compiled from aerial photographs taken in the same year. the area that lies above 2400 m and accounts for about 40% of the total area falls within dry dega agro-climatic zone. the remnants of these original vegetation types. This shows that population of the area had increased more than threefold over the previous three decades. Population and settlement pattern: In 1972 the number of inhabitants of the area was estimated by counting peasant tukuls 4 from an existing 1:50. Ethiopia. Unpublished MA thesis. particularly trees and shrub woods. Addis Ababa.and shrubs occurred in herbaceous elements. specifically varieties of eucalyptus trees. Exotic trees. and also along stream courses as riverine trees.5 and the average rural household size of Shewa Province between 1968 and 1972 (CSA 1974 cited in Kahsay. while the remaining 60% that has elevation between 2000 and 2400 m lies within the woina dega agro-climatic zone. temperature and altitude.89%. the population of the Upper Dijo River catchment in 1972 was estimated to be 5792.75 persons. are planted extensively around settlements and along river courses. As a result of such unprecedented increases in population size. Department of Environmental Science. Settlements in the area are predominantly rural and villages are generally linear in farmhouse After counting the number of dots representing peasant tukuls. 5 The total number of tukuls was then multiplied by 4. the number of tukuls was multiplied by the average household size at that time. The former is similar to a warm temperate climate while the latter is more like a subtropical climate. Today. with an average annual growth rate of 3. the population of the Upper Dijo River catchment was estimated to be 19. Accordingly.646 in 2004. are found in small patches only around mosques and on the steeper slopes of the escarpment. The household survey conducted in 2004 showed that the average household in the study area consisted of 7. Kahsay (2004) ‘Land use/cover changes in Central Ethiopia: The case of Yerer Mountain & its surroundings’. Addis Ababa University. food and other resources.

SAF 1-E 1222411. chat and other cereals. sorghum. 2004. and tree plantations. while the satellite image was used because there were no recent aerial photographs available for comparison with older photographs. Distant farms are used for growing annual crops such as wheat. Israel. whereby farmers divide their lands into several plots for different purposes such as for settlement and avenues. The aerial photographs and satellite image were obtained from the Ethiopian Mapping Authority (EMA) and ImageSat International. in order to detect and monitor the extent and direction of the changes in the LULC. Land use pattern: The land use pattern in the study area is similar to that of other areas where enset (false banana) is cultivated. it was necessary to compare the aerial photographs of 1972 with the satellite image of 2004.form. chat and vegetables. grazing.500 and were enlarged from a scale of 1:50. are used for livestock grazing and eucalyptus tree plantations. 8 . and at some distance. There are two towns: Werabe. and Alkeso. maize. georeferencing and rectification using photogrammetric techniques. Israel. and beans.8 m. one health centre and two health posts. and which are marginally important. The local residents have access to road transport and there are also schools (two primary schools and one secondary school). the land which is used for enset plantation and annual crops. teff. barley. the seat of Zone level administration. ImageSat International. which is a small market place located within the river basin. Aerial photos were the only source of spatial data in image form for the period prior to when satellites were launched. Land plots located outside the inner ring. There are also random areas of degraded grounds. Thus. The EROS-1 7 image had a radiometrically corrected spatial resolution of 1. growing enset. DATA SOURCES AND METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION Aerial photographs taken in December 1972 and a satellite image taken in December 2004 were the major source of data used to detect changes in the LULC in the area. 7 EROS A High-Resolution Satellite Imagery. respectively.000 after mosaicing. Homestead plots are used for growing the most important crops such as enset. The aerial photographs were at a scale of 1:12.

First. Moreover. drainage density and topographic situations. there wee 31 kebele peasant administrations (KPAs). The Upper Dijo River catchment. Each transect had a number of quadrants relative to its population density. settlement patterns and access to road transport systems. The questionnaires were pre-tested and modified in the field. sample households were randomly selected using a lottery method. mosque compounds).000 topographic map of the area. In addition. To select 120 sample households. Depending upon the number of households within the quadrants. was systematically delineated from a 1:50. and off-farm and non-farm employment. such as sacred areas (e. and other basic infrastructure. livestock and crops. the soil sample results of one of the members of a research team was chosen to evaluate the effect of LULC changes on the soils. 10 soil samples were taken for analysis from pocket areas (areas with relatively little human influence such as religious places and farm boundaries) where LULC changes were minimal and which had not been subject to much disturbance in their history. covering an area of c. remnants of natural vegetation and farm boundaries. Dalocha and Aricho Weriro. and the results of a soil survey and analysis made by Abyiot (2005).LULC change reflects both the biophysical conditions and the history of the socio-economic setting of a given area. The samples were taken from 30 cm deep auger holes along the transects.g. soil fertility management. Each quadrant contained a number of households. the sub-catchment area selected for this study. The selection of the study area took into consideration the relative location. This approach substitutes space for 9 . In addition. a sub-catchment area was selected within the Dijo River catchment. soil degradation. The Upper Dijo River catchment consists of parts of two KPAs: Anshebeso and Arat Ber. agro-climatic conditions. a household survey was conducted to acquire data relating to the socio-economic and demographic conditions of rural households which would help to explain the changes observed in the LULC. four parallel transects were drawn (arrayed) at 200 m altitude intervals. Structured questionnaires were administered to the sample household heads.600 km2 and comprising parts of three weredas (districts): Silte. landholding size. The questionnaires included several issues relating to demographic situation. which accounted for approximately 5% of 2535 households of the two sample KPAs. Sample quadrants (average size 300 m2) were set over each transect. Hence.

To establish the classification in the latter case. and mosaiced after rectification using photogrammetric techniques. Then. variations in soil properties are attributed to the observed differences in the LULC. involving georeferencing. followed by detection and recognition of their changes. 37). and mapping. To evaluate changes in the LULC. the type. Georeferencing of the EROS-1 image was made in the same projection as the aerial photographs.time and is referred to as a spatial analogue method (Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder 2003. the 2004 satellite image was taken during the research period and could be directly checked against ground truth. Then. The collected household socio-economic and demographic data were processed using SPSS to generate descriptive statistics. georeferenced in UTM projection using control points collected in the field. the interpretation and LULC classification process was performed by establishing a preliminary legend based on visual interpretations using a mirror stereoscope for air photographs. As the aerial photographs had been taken 32 years previously. In contrast. the interpretation and classification based on them could not be checked against ground truth. The post-interpretation and classification phase involved preparation of LULC maps from both the 1972 aerial photographs and the 2004 satellite image of the area. Some of the research findings made by Shiferaw Teka 8 were used to compare the implications of LULC changes on the biodiversity of the area. a third map was prepared showing LULC transformations using the overlay function of ArcView Spatial Analyst software. magnitude and trend of the LULC changes and their impact on the environment were evaluated. data from both aerial photographs and the satellite image were systematically processed. Then the maximum likelihood classification method was applied for identifying land use and land cover types for the study area as a whole. In this regard. 10 . digitization. The aerial photographs were first scanned. mosaicing. interpretation. followed by screen digitization. An automatic classification method was applied to identify and delineate the different LULC units for the satellite image. using the selected ground control points (GCPs). Based on the first two. six homogenous areas were selected for each LULC unit as a testing site. The qualitative data obtained through group discussions and interviews conducted with local authorities and experts in local agricultural 8 A member of the research team who surveyed the biodiversity status in the study area.

tree plantations. The description of each land use and cover type is listed in Table 1. and pH using a pH meter in a 1:1 soil to water ratio. were used to identify the causes of LULC and to assess the impact of the changes on the livelihoods of the rural population. The sample soils were first air dried. and then conventional analytical methods were used following procedures described by the Ministry of Natural Resources Development and Environmental Protection (MoNRDEP 1990). one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a least significant difference (LSD) test. 9 Perennial croplands and settlements are treated as one category because perennial crops such as enset and chat were grown in areas immediately surrounding peasant tukuls and it was not easy to distinguish the boundaries between them. land used for growing annual crops. together with the descriptive statistics of the qualitative household data. and bare land/open grassland. and then it converting to organic matter by multiplying by a factor of 1. 45 km away from the capital Addis in the south). lightly ground and passed through a 2 mm sieve. Soil texture was determined by the hydrometer method.724. which in turn were used to characterize the soils of different LULCs. The organic matter in the soil samples was calculated first by determining the soil’s organic carbon content using the Walkley-Black method. perennial cropland and settlement. Available phosphorus (P) was identified using the Olsen and Bray II methods and potassium (K+) by the ammonium acetate method. LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGES IN THE UPPER DIJO RIVER CATCHMENT Patterns of land use and land cover distribution: Six LULC types were identified in the area: riverine trees. The 10 soil samples collected from different LULC types were analysed in the Holeta Soil Laboratory (it is located in Oromia region. 9 shrub-grassland.offices. Then the laboratory test results were summarized using percentages. and thereby the consequential effects of LULC changes on the soils were able to be reviewed. 11 . total nitrogen determined by the Kjeldahl method.

including riverine trees and exotic wood lots. In the two periods considered. Only 6% of all areas covered by different LULC types.8%). while waste lands and stunted and scant grass covered 18. Approximately 80% of the LULC of the area occurred in an area where the degree of slope was less than 15%. grouped by slope class. areas with rock outcrops and badlands) and areas with stunted and scant grass covered 4. followed by perennial crops and settlements (25. The proportion and distribution of LULC types by hectare and per cent. including indigenous tree species and exotic trees such as eucalyptus and juniperus trees. Shrub-grassland Land for annual crops Bare land/open grassland Areas with a cover of shrubs and short trees mixed with grasses. In 1972 the riverine tree cover was two times more than that of exotic tree plantations.4%. 12 . were located in zones with slopes exceeding 30%. 2b). The remaining area was occupied by riverine trees (1. mainly eucalyptus and juniperus trees.3%). and wastelands with exposed rocks and badlands. LULC Types Riverine trees Description Trees grown along stream courses. particularly croplands and shrub-grasslands. together with rural settlements settlements (tukuls and avenues). 15.Table 1: The LULC types identified in the Upper Dijo River catchment. Areas with a cover of stunted and scant grass. Perennial crops and Areas with enset and chat tree crops.9%) (Fig. and not found near river courses. It covered more than one-third (33. Perennial crops and settlements accounted for 24%. together accounted for 17% of the catchment area.e. In 2004 the coverage of annual crops increased to 41% of the total area. Lands that were under all types of trees. 2a and 2b. is shown for 1972 and 2004 respectively in Tables 2 and 3 and Figs.3% of the total catchment area is located in a zone with a slope of 15–30%. The pattern and distribution of LULC types in different slope zones remained more or less similar during the two periods.1% of the basin area. exotic tree plantations (7.3%) and shrub and/or grassland (7. Areas used for growing annual crops such as wheat and barley. land used for growing annual crops was more important in the Upper Dijo River catchment.3%) and shrub-grassland (20. while wastelands (i. Tree plantations Areas planted with exotic trees.4%) of the total area in 1972.

7 7.1 16.0 1.9 23.2 0.7 33.3 100 124.0 100 11.2 26.0 33.0 8.3 40. Land use and land cover types Riverine trees Slope class <2 2–8 (ha) 94.6 162.2 2225.6 0.6 169.9 1858.4 4.4 28.4 7.1 93.4 14.5 0.5 100 73.1 41.0 110.6 10.4 3.53 40.6 1522.Table 2: Distribution of the LULC of the Upper Dijo River catchment in 1972.6 12.0 4.8 332.3 0.7 25.3 39.0 30–55 20.4 42.8 29.8 63.3 5.4 3.3 39.5 9.8 30.3 40.1 151.9 65.5 5.7 6.0 750.0 ShrubLand for annual Bare land/open Tree Perennial crops grassland crops grassland plantations & settlements (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) 41.3 10.2 292.9 Bare land/open grassland (ha) (%) Total Area (ha) 650.9 27.0 7.4 287.9 68.0 0.0 15.8 171.6 284.0 100 * The upper figures refer to percentages calculated row-wise while the lower ones are computed column-wise.6 9.1 14.6 18.7 7.7 100 100 219.7 41.7 28.8 Total Area (ha) (%) 11.2 14.3 1.06 11.7 11.0 34.6 101.9 35.1 9.4 136.1 87.0 5.3 1.9 >55 0.2 4.5 41.0 5.2 38.5 7.7 22.4 100 42.2 10.1 422.6 12.5 501.3 4.2 24.1 470.1 9.7 72.5 3.6 18.4 23.4 33.8 6.7 167.3 5.6 22.2 100 20.9 606.0 76.9 17.9 11.8 19.3 5.1 7.0 230.6 292.8 32.5 0.7 30.8 19.6 87.8 1.7 23.9 4.0 34.0 5570.4 30.8 42.4 250.2* 11.8 19.2 100 6.7 26.2 3.6 10.3 18.8 32.4 6.4 584.4 19.7 31.6 650.8 37.9 1.3 16.7 2.3 21. Table 3: Distribution of the LULC of the Upper Dijo River catchment in 2004.0 4.4 2.5 15–30 103.0 0.8 362.6 14.6* 15.0 (%) 11.7 24.1 13.6 1.1 3.6 0. Land use and land cover types Slope class Riverine trees (ha) <2 2–8 8–15 15–30 30–55 >55 Total 10.3 20.3 849.5 14.6 4.6 14.2 38.5 1522.5 90.3 2258.2 29.7 948.8 100 Tree plantations Perennial ShrubLand for crops & grassland annual crops settlements & settlements (ha) (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) (ha) (%) 6.9 849.6 7.3 0.0 90.7 27.4 12.8 4.3 1129.3 14.1 46.6 392.7 201.6 100 100 * The upper figures refer to percentages calculated row-wise while the lower ones are computed column-wise.4 31.0 38.7 1408.7 40. 13 .8 11.1 9.2 30.0 3.2 290.6 0.1 319 6.5 0.0 29.1 5570.1 16.4 1025.9 2225.7 27.7 19.5 0.2 27.0 26.4 533.8 115.9 21.6 18.1 4.52 100 8–15 233.53 33.2 10.7 20.2 30.7 10.6 7.2 27.0 6.4 1334.5 37.9 38.5 24.7 9.0 1.0 98.52 100 44.4 0.0 6.0 15.4 16.1 0.7 26.9 2.35 1.6 146.5 3.5 37.4 15.0 40.4 15.0 35.4 Total 623.4 0.1 11.6 17.6 0.7 0.4 (%) 1.9 442.3 32.4 10.5 31.1 36.8 407.4 14.1 21.7 21.7 56.5 296.

3 24 7.9 40.8 +21.77 ------ 14 . which may have been due to encroachment by annual crop cultivation. Shrub-grasslands showed a similar pattern of change and decreased by 61% in this period.2 25.0 % 1.7 230.3 33.PATTERN OF CHANGES IN LAND USE AND LAND COVER Table 4 shows the pattern of changes in LULC between 1972 and 2004. In contrast.87 -0.3 -21.4 100 (ha) -522.5 +12.5 ----ha/yr -16.6 319 1408. with increases of 345% and 28% respectively in the 30-year period.9 +0. Bare land/open grassland and tree plantations showed similar patterns of change. In general.1 100 (ha) 101.9 1025.16 -1.2 -73.7 -5. In contrast. more and more land became degraded and was abandoned. Land used for growing annual crops increased by 22% compared with the previous amount of cover and accounted for 8% of the total area. the pattern showed a tendency towards more land being brought under annual crops.24 -60.5 +24.8 -----(%) -2.3 +2.6 18.8 -2.5 +344. Change between Average rate of Area (1972) Area (2004) 1972 and 2004 change Land use/cover units Riverine trees Tree plantations Perennial crops and settlements Shrub-grassland Land for annual crops Bare land/open grassland Total (ha) 623.2 +795 ----(%) -84 +27.67 +10.4 442.3 20.8 -687.5 2258. However.4 407.2 +88. by approximately 5%. riverine tree cover showed a reverse trend.6 5570. the expansion of land/open grassland was approximately fivefold while that of tree plantations was relatively less significant.0 % 11. Table 4: Pattern of LULC changes between 1972 and 2004 in the Upper Dijo River catchment. Lands used for perennial crops and settlements also showed a decline.8 7.2 5. reducing by 84% during the same period of time.4 4.7 1858.8 5570.2 +400.63 +0.2 1334.2 1129. while at the same time tree plantations became more important at the expense of shrub-grassland and riverine trees.

2a 2b 15 .

Figure 3: Land use and land cover change map of the Upper Dijo River catchment between 1972 and 2004. 16 . a and b: Land use and land cover map of the Upper Dijo River catchment in 1972 and 2004.Figure 2.

2 Perennial crops Shrub& settlements grassland 141. and 19% to bare land/open grassland.2 1.6%) 206.3 8. The area that was changed from other land use/cover types to shrub-grassland was small and accounted for only 29% compared to the amount of shrub-grassland lost to other types (Table 5).2 105 (45.9 59.2% to land used for growing annual crops.2 1333.4 968 (52%) 68.6 119. Land use and land cover units in 2004 (ha) Riverine trees Riverine trees Land use/cover units 1972 (ha) Tree plantations Perennial crops & settlements Shrub-grassland Land for annual crops Bare land/open grassland Total area 46. The remainder (92. The rest (90%) was transformed to other LULC types in 2004: 2.5% of the area that was covered with riverine trees in 1972 remained the same in 2004.9 (7.7% to perennial crops and settlements.2%) 88.6 152.5%) Total area 623.7% compared with 92. only approximately 10% of the area that was covered with shrub-grassland in 1972 was still under the same cover in 2004.3 Bare land/open grassland 118. Further.4 115.4 Tree plantations 65.5% to tree plantations.4 442.1%) 132.8 96. 11% to shrub-grassland.6 5570 Note: Figures in parentheses represent LULC that showed no change.9 1025. 18% to perennial crops and settlements.1 (31.2 1129.7 29.Table 5: Matrix of land use and land cover change in the Upper Dijo River catchment.8 579. 17 . and 31. conversion of other land use/cover types to riverine trees amounted only 8.0 465.0 28. 29.6 319 1408.6% to riverine trees.4 55.5 2258.2 (10.8 407. In contrast.2 359.4 73.0 4. 3 show that only 7.5% that was lost to other land use/cover types (Table 5).8% to bare land/open grassland.0 101.7 98. Table 5 and Fig.6 26.7 1858.1 (8. 5% to tree plantations. 22.3 445.5 364. 32% to land used for growing annual crops.2 Land for annual crops 181.5%) was cleared and had changed to other land use/cover types by 2004: 10.6 0.7 230.5%) 19.3 217.0 69.1 17.0 43.

5 Perennial Riverine Tree crops & trees plantations settlement 5.3 ha (55.1 117.8 1040. it is apparent that the three LULCs were most at risk of undergoing change.4 0.4 650. while the remaining 31% of the area remained under the same use and cover type. With regard to agriculturally suitable terrain in terms of slope.Of the total cultivated area and wastelands in 1972.3 26. Land use/cover types remained unchanged (ha) Slope class <2 2–8 8–15 Areas changed (ha) 463.7 186.9 3.8 0.9 5570 Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered 15–30 605.1 5.e. Further. Thus.1 30–55 218. areas in the 30% slope class or less.2 271.1 115.9 849.7 9.7 5.3 133. expressed in per cent.0 2. 52% and 46% respectively remained unchanged.9 41.8 13.3%) were under cultivation for perennial crops in 2004 (Table 4).1 22.2 >55 Total 22.0 5. 10% and 18% respectively of the original covers of perennial crops and settlements.4 5.7%) were already under cultivation for annual crops in 1972 (Table 3) and 3373.8 3. Approximately 3860 ha.7 Table 6 shows the pattern of changed and unchanged LULC types between 1972 and 2004 in various slope zones.7 0.5 3.03 46.4 0.04 0.1 Bare land/open Total grassland area 18.9 7.2 105.1 37. underwent change from one land use or land cover type to another land use or land cover types. 94% of the changed land use and land cover types were located on slopes of less than 30%.0 104. i.6 292.1 Land for Shrubannual grassland crops 16. 3100. accounting for 69% of the total area of the catchment area.8 968.2 3863.2 2225.5 2.4 ha (64.0 1514. This Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left Formatted: Left Formatted: Centered Formatted: Left 18 .9 1522.6 39. Table 6: Distribution of changed and unchanged land use and land cover types by slope class in the Upper Dijo River catchment area between 1972 and 2004.9 411.6 41.2 51.2 15.8 28. shrub-grassland and exotic tree plantations showed no change.8 40.5 445.3 79.2 2. 32%. while the remaining largest portions of these LULCs were changed to other types of cover.

shrub and marginal lands. of which the young accounted for 87% and the elderly for 13%. shrub and marginal lands. The expansion of croplands toward forest.implies that more areas with gentle slopes (<30%) were brought under crop cultivation than areas with steeper slopes. Similarly. Observations also showed 44% of the total population of the area was under the age of 15 years. has resulted in deforestation and soil degradation. Generally. wood for fuel and construction purposes. These will be discussed in the following section. increased demands for fuel wood in the absence of alternative sources of energy have led to the destruction of forests. human pressure on land resources is not only high but may also continue to be high in the foreseeable future. even in those areas where slopes were steeper. This may indicate that nearly half of the population is young and economically dependent. Hence. while the remaining 50% were aged between 15 and 65 years and 6% were above 65 years. They have also led to the increased use of crop residues and animal dung for fuel rather than using these as sources of organic fertilizer to replenish the fertility levels of the soils. Fast population growth and the consequent high pressure on resources are expected to have an adverse effect on the existing natural resources of the area.9% per year and more than tripled in size. the change in the proportion of cropland with regard to slope was negligible between 1972 and 2004 because expansion took place more or less in all slope zones. CAUSES OF LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGE Population pressure. 19 . Between 1972 and 2004 the number of households in the area increased by 97% while the total population grew at a rate of 3. Substantial increases in demand for food have resulted in an expansion of croplands by encroaching on uncultivated areas. Such rapid population growth in the area has already exerted pressure on the existing land resources through increasing the demand for food. the next step was to identify the possible explanation(s) and the forces working behind the changes. including continuous and over cultivation. and other necessities (Fig. 4). Having identified the changes in the patterns of LULC in the area for the previous three decades. including forests. The age dependency ratio was 100%.

has probably adversely influenced the pattern of 20 . shrub and marginal lands Destruction of forests. Population pressure The 1975 land reform Farming system Increase demand for: Increase the value added to land Land redistribution Food Fuel wood Other necessities Improvements in soil management Traditional farm implements maresha & kember Reduction in crop yields Emergence of new households Expansion of croplands towards forest. After the 1975 land reform.Land tenure system: Before the 1975 land reform. fuel wood & shelter. land in Ethiopia was the property of a few landlords. 65% were petty landowners (gebar) and 14% were tenants (chisegna). decline in soil fertility and expansion of bare land Figure 4: Causes and consequences of land use and land cover changes and farmers’ responses. Both gebar and chisegna did not own any land. (The green arrow indicates positive change however. local people who were petty landowners and tenants were ensured of their right to use their landholdings. the red arrow indicates negative change). Use of crop residues & animal dung for fuel wood Cutting of trees Destruction of forests Increase demand for food. This was also the case in the Upper Dijo River catchment area. Of the sample households. The 1975 land reform. Illegal land transactions Extensification or intensification of cropland Destruction of remnant forests Destruction of remnant forests & shrubs Conversion of forest areas to cropland and settlement areas Land degradation: soil erosion. which resulted in the change in ownership of land by a few landlords to ownership distributed among many peasants.

there were slight variations within the sample transects.74 ha in Transect 1. Table 7: Distribution of households and landholding size in 2004.86 ha in Transect 2.13 ha to 2. and 0. which has resulted in the reduction of landholding size and allows land to be used by rich peasants. 1 4 7 9 20 Number of respondents Tr. In response. the holding sizes were very small.12 ha in Transect 2.7 ha (2. 0. Thus. Thus. which indicates high population pressure on existing land resources. Household size 5 6–8 9 Total Landholding (ha) Tr. 0.5 ha. Per capita landholdings in 2004 were 0. 0. This has aggravated the level of poverty among the people. 4). expansion of cropland and the destruction of natural forests in the area. the local people have engaged in illegal land transactions in the form of weled aged (illegal way of transferring land to another person). the 1975 land reform resulted in problems of land consolidation. The average holding size was less than 1 ha. which in turn led to increased demands for food and hence cropland and other basic necessities.63 ha in Transect 4.8 timad) and the holdings ranged from 0. 3 Tr. In 2004 the average landholding size in the study area was nearly 0. 4 Total area 5 9 7 25 17 18 9 51 14 36 12 39 9 25 44 120 21 . and 0. However. forest areas were converted to cropland and areas for settlements (Fig.55 ha in Transect 3.09 ha in Transect 1. 0. the land tenure system which prevailed after the 1975 land reform gave peasants use rights only. The average landholdings were 0. The redistribution of landownership resulted in the emergence of new households. Moreover. As a result. The latter has resulted in increased amounts of bare land and changes in soil properties.land use and land cover changes in the area. The difference in per capita holdings between transects was due to variations in population size and the total area of the transects.08 ha in Transect 3. 2 Tr.09 ha in Transect 4. Landholding size: Table 7 shows the average landholding size per household in the study area.

This was clearly observed in the study area. However. which has implemented by the country’s main regions started in 2003 modelled in an effort in Tigray during the late 1990’s.5–1 >1 Total 10 8 2 20 13 15 7 36 25 10 4 39 13 11 1 25 62 43 14 120 A total 93% of respondents reported that their holdings had decreased over the previous three decades. Silte Wereda Extension and Communication Office 22 .8 minutes in Transect 1. and 17% to increased population pressure. However. many of them replied that they had bought it informally from other holders. A few respondents (12%) claimed that part of their landholding had been snatched by Keble Peasant Association leaders and transferred to others in the form of weled aged.5 0. while 23% attributed the decrease to soil erosion and gully expansion. it may further complicate the problems of implementing the new land certification process. and 16. Land fragmentation: Another problem related to the land tenure system was fragmentation of land. When asked where the extra land had come from. In contrast. 13.89 minutes in Transect 2. for several reasons: 48% of the respondents reported that the 1975 land reform and its consequent land redistribution was one of the main factors.21 minutes in Transect 4.0. a few of the respondents indicated that their holdings had increased during the previous three decades. 10 this traditional way of transferring land to another person has aggravated the level of poverty in the area. In the study area the number of plots held by a person ranged from one to five plots. slight variations among transects were observed: travel time was 11. According to a local official.54 minutes in Transect 3. and the average was two. where peasants planted enset around their homesteads and invested more in their enset fields compared to farm plots located further away. Team Leader. there was no variation within transects. They 10 Ato Tale Geta. the average distance from any given homestead to all plots was approximately 13 minutes. With regard to travel time on foot. In addition. 11. Land fragmentation is a constraint to land management and the intensity of cultivation.

added manure and crop residues to enset fields and gave more attention and care. peasants do not have access to fertilizers due to their prohibitively high prices. peasants are compelled to shift from extensification to intensification by increasing labour and other inputs. 11 the total number of livestock of the sampled households was 237. and horses. sheep and goats for 11. the only option to increase crop production is to use croplands more intensively. Livestock production: As in all other parts of the country. The average 11 TLU (Tropical Livestock Unit) is equivalent to 250 kg live animal weight. there is no return of organic matter to restore the fertility of land used for growing annual crops. Hence. and also the expansion of croplands towards forest areas and grazing lands to increase yields to feed the growing population (Fig. donkeys and mules for 10.4%. However. The subsistence nature of the farming system has contributed to the pattern of land use and land cover change through the cutting of trees in order to prepare traditional farm implements such as maresha (traditional ploughs).6%. they did not add manure and crop residues to land used for growing annual crops. 23 . Moreover. equivalent to three livestock per household. The farming system is a mixed type. 4). livestock are an integral part of the cropping system in the study area. they use their available supplies of manure and crop residues on enset fields and as feed for livestock rather than applying these to land used for growing annual crops. In terms of Tropical Livestock Unit (TLU). This has resulted in declining soil fertility and a drop in agricultural productivity. Today. As a result. The total number of livestock of the sampled households was 376. The expansion of croplands has resulted in the destruction of natural forests. Due to shortage of land. soil fertility is expected to decrease more rapidly in such plots which are located further away from homesteads. most of the lands which are suitable for crop production are already cultivated. kember (a part of traditional ploughs) and hand hoes. Cattle accounted for 78%. According to the respondents. the expansion of croplands into grazing lands has led to a decline in livestock production. Hence. FARMING SYSTEM Crop production: A further influential factor that has led to the changes in the pattern of land use and land cover is the traditional nature of the farming system in the area. Similarly. where both crop farming and livestock production are carried out on a subsistence basis.

With regard to the trend in livestock numbers. nearly 44% of the households did not have any oxen and of those who did possess oxen. Oxen are the major source of drought power in the study area. 2. Sources of energy: Fuel wood and cattle dung have been the most important energy sources (biofuels) in rural Ethiopia in general and in the Upper Dijo River catchment in particular. 51% had only one ox per household and 5% had only two oxen per household. and 1. Approximately half (52%) of respondents indicated that the main reason for the decrease in the numbers of livestock per households had been shortage of animal feed. Plate 1: Expansion of cropland towards grazing land. 14% attributed it to the selling of cattle due to poverty.holdings of households were 2. 60% 24 . However. and the remaining 4% claimed it was due to other problems such as seasonal shortages of labour.13 TLU in Transect 2. as many as 82% of the respondents reported that livestock numbers had decreased in the area.15 TLU in Transect 1. 1.5% of the sample households reported an increase in numbers. the remaining 9. while approximately 30% attributed the decrease to the death of livestock due to animal diseases. This has created serious problems for the efficiency of farming activities in the area.74 TLU in Transect 3. while 21% claimed that drought was the major cause.98 TLU in Transect 4. 22% claimed it was the expansion of gullies. According to 57% of the respondents the main factor behind the shortage of livestock feed was the expansion of cropland (Plate 1).5% reported that there had been no change in numbers of livestock. while 8.

However.228 a Open Degraded grassland a lands a 30.365 sites * 39.of the respondents confirmed that fuel wood was most important. Land use/cover types Reference Soil properties Clay Silt Sand pH 1:1 H2O Total N (%) Available P (ppm) Organic C (%) Cropland 43. IMPLICATIONS OF LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGES Land use and land cover changes degrade or enhance the land’s capacity for sustained use and regaining its natural cover.39 22.193 5.23 4.15 0.197 7.00 28. Table 8: Soil properties (0–30 cm) of four land use and land cover types.2 1.25 33.1 3. Further.37 0.889 25 .5 6.03 0.75 6. Hence.075 0. This is due to the fact that the soil samples taken from degraded and cultivated lands by Abyiot (2005) were unfortunately all on vertisols.8 6.689 Average 41.54 2. A few respondents (5%) told that they used crop residues as energy sources. particularly on depositional sites. the absence of natural forest cover in the area may have affected the results. which are rich in clay content.94 31.00 36.00 33. the general trend in soil texture in conjunction with the pattern of land use and land cover change is not in agreement with the findings of Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder (2003) who reported low clay content in cultivated soils.37 3.5 22.75 33. In contrast.5 3.23 6. such usage was not found to be significant because peasant households often use crop residues for animal feed rather than energy sources (Fig. the clay fractions were found to be highest in degraded lands and croplands and lowest in open grassland and soils from reference sites. while 35% confirmed that cattle dug was most important.30 26.00 6.275 22.00 55. changes in land use and land cover have a significant influence on soil resources and biodiversity. Specifically.11 4. 4). Implications for soil degradation: Table 8 shows that the sand fraction was higher in open grassland and lower in cropland and degraded land in the study area.86 5.52 0.

but contradicts those of Wakene & Heluf (2004). especially DAP (diammonium phosphates) on croplands.4 3. 26 . which could be due to the effect of application of chemical fertilizers.226 15. the ANOVA and LSD test did not show significant variation in SOM among different land use and land cover types. open grass and degraded lands had average SOM contents of 87%. However. * References are sites which include farm boundaries and holy sites which are believed to have not suffered from land use or land cover change.57 1. the soils under crop.65 1.C/N ratio SOM (%) K+((c mol(+)/kg)) Notes: 17. The available phosphorous (P) content ranged from 4. respectively.88 4. This finding is in line with those of Mulugeta (2004) and Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder (2003).1 ppm in cropland (Table 8). 88% and 37% of soils from the reference sites.23%) and lowest in degraded soils (0.085 2.83 6.322 14.1%) (Table 8). The highest concentration of available P was observed in croplands. It seems that human influences have resulted in a drop in SOM content.36 1. This may be due to the absence of natural forests and the subsequent widespread soil degradation due to erosion by runoff in the study area. and in general degraded lands were found to have a low total N. This result is in line with the findings of Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder (2003).995 1. However.107 14. The same result was obtained by Wakene & Heluf (2004). the available P content of the soils had statistically significant differences among the different land use and land cover types.754 Cropland refers to annual crops. An LSD test revealed that degraded soils significantly differed from all others in terms of total N. When compared with soils from reference sites.359 12. The soil organic matter (SOM) content was found to be highest in reference soils (Table 8).32 5. This may be due to soil erosion and leaching. It was highest in control and open grassland soils (0. a Soil sample results obtained by Abyiot Legesse (2005) The total nitrogen (N) content of the soils showed differences among different land use and land cover types.2 ppm in degraded land to 7.27 5.

and Mesena are some of the most severely threatened species of trees. who reported insignificant difference in K+ among different land uses. Sobla. Korch (Erythrina brucei). In addition. The differences in the pH of soils under different land use and land cover types were small (Table 8).23 (C mol (+)/kg)) (Table 8). who reported a higher K+ content from virgin land than from cultivated and abandoned lands.52). These findings are in line with those of empirical studies by Mulugeta (2004) and Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder (2003).08 to 6. land use and land cover change have resulted in soil degradation. Regarding food crops. and the depletion of biodiversity. and indirectly through the effects on nutrient availability (Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder 2003). This is in agreement with the findings by Woldeamlak & Stroosnijder (2003). the trend of soil acidity for cultivated lands showed that intensive cultivation and continuous use of acidforming inorganic fertilizers had accentuated the level of soil acidity. the removal of topsoil. while open grassland. Soil pH directly affects plant growth through the effect of the hydrogen ions. peas (Pisum sativum) and lentils (Lens culinaris) are avoided by peasants due to their vulnerability to attacks by pests and monkeys. However. leading to loss of soil fertility. It was highest in reference soils (3. degraded and reference soils were slightly acidic (pH ranged from 6. Wadesha.37). the ANOVA did not show a significant variation in K+ among the different land use and land cover types.The potassium (K+) content of the soils varied among the different land use and land cover types. Cropland soils were moderately acidic (pH = 5. Focus group discussions confirmed that Kosso (Hagenia abyssinica). which in turn leads to irreversible deterioration of natural resources. 27 . Generally.11 (C mol (+)/kg)) and lowest in degraded soils (1. which are on the verge of extinction. Sigeda (Oleaceae) and Zigba (Podocarpus falcatus) trees are becoming extinct in the study area. This result is similar to that of Wakene & Heluf (2004). However. Implications for biodiversity loss: The natural vegetation and tree species of the Upper Dijo River catchment have been under threat. Gulo (Ricinus communis). Kulkual (Euphorbia abyssinica). Even Sembelet (Hyparrhenia) and Sendedo (Pennisetum) are becoming severely threatened due to excessive and unwise use for thatching as well as for manufacturing traditional artefacts.

The respondents associated this with the trees’ role in controlling the expansion of gullies. Eucalyptus trees have grown widely and have become the dominant tree type in the area. but keep reasonable distances in between. and consequently the land may not be used productively in other ways. 28 . along and inside gullies. Plate 2: Eucalyptus trees planted by farmers in badly degraded lands. the peasants suggested that the eucalyptus trees have adverse effects on the ecology.FARMERS’ RESPONSES 12 Response to the scarcity of fuel wood: The scarcity of wood for fuel and other uses has forced people to plant eucalyptus trees. For this reason the peasants in the study area do not expand their croplands into the eucalyptus tree plantations. Further. especially on water resources by causing desiccation. Team Leader. Despite their adverse impact. the local official 13 reported that 250 ha of land in Anshebeso and Arat Ber kebeles had been planted with eucalyptus trees. However. All of the sample households had planted eucalyptus trees around their homesteads. and on degraded lands (Plate 2). It was reported that many people plant trees to stop the expansion of gullies into their cropland and grazing areas and thereby they also met their household needs for fuel wood and other 12 The responses refer to the conservation measures taken by farmers to alleviate the adverse effects of land use and land cover change on their livelihood and the environment. eucalyptus tree plantations have continued to expand rapidly. 13 Ato Tale Geta. The respondents in the focal group discussions indicated that the main reason for preferring eucalyptus trees was their fast growth and tolerance of environmental stress. Selti Wereda Extension Communication Office.

This has forced farmers to cultivate marginal lands. specifically aerial photography and satellite images. Heterogeneous data types. and 10% used crop rotation and other methods such as fallowing. Most of the respondents were engaged in improving soil fertility. and ash. there is growing pressure on the limited resources. Hence. including improving the fertility status of the soils (95% of respondents) and changing the land use type (5% of respondents). Hence. 37% used manure. Using these advanced technologies together with 29 . Soil fertility management systems: As a consequence of the study area being very densely populated. In response the question ‘where do you plant trees?’ the farmers (household heads) answered ‘along and inside gullies’. Most of the farmers mainly applied manure to enset fields. household waste. using different methods to maintain the fertility levels of the soils: 53% used artificial fertilizers. while for cereal crops they used commercial fertilizers and practised crop rotation. This finding is in agreement with that of Tilhun et al. and stop the use of crop residues to maintain soil fertility. (2001) who reported that homestead plots in the Gununo area in Southern Ethiopia are given continuous applications of manure. Almost all (98%) of the respondents used soil and stone bunds while only 2% used check dams to alleviate the problem of soil erosion in the area. As a consequence. In this respect.necessities. the peasants in the study area have employed a variety of measures. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This study has revealed that the recent advancements in spatial technology. could provide powerful tools for evaluating land use and land cover changes at catchment levels. provided valuable data for this study. Farmers’ participation in soil and water conservation: The respondents were aware of the problems of soil erosion that existed in the area and tried to tackle these by applying some conservation measures. namely remote sensing and GIS. compost. discontinue the practice of fallowing. access to new land has become very limited. land management is necessary to prolong cultivation periods and feed the growing population. the decline in soil fertility is accelerated on plots that are located further away from homesteads.

the area is one of the most densely populated areas of the country.field-based detection.8 ha/yr). The decrease in riverine trees and shrub-grassland partly reflects the considerable degradation of natural vegetation in the area. Hence. However. it is not land redistribution. the productivity of land has declined over time. The current ecological problems of the Upper Dijo River catchment and the associated land use and land cover changes can be related partly to the livelihoods of the local population.e. Non-demographic factors have strongly influenced the dynamics of the environment in the area too. However. Further. In addition. In this respect. i. In the Upper Dijo River catchment. demographic factors alone are not responsible for environmental degradation.3 ha/yr. quantified changes in land use and land cover were calculated for the study area in the Upper Dijo River catchment between 1972 and 2004. and tree plantations (2. and to a certain extent the population growth. which has resulted from household tree plantation activities (in support of Boseupian perspectives).8 ha/yr). landholdings per household have been declining and today the rate is 0. This is due to both land degradation. and environmental recovery.7 ha/household. the local people live in abject poverty. cropland and settlement areas (12. as in much of rural Ethiopia elsewhere. neither Malthusian nor Boserupian assertions can completely account for the relationship between the people and the environment in the study area.5 ha/yr).8 persons per household. with an average of 7. A corresponding increase was observed in bare land/open grassland (24. as in other parts of the country. but rather it is the illegal transactions of land from person to person (weled aged) which has aggravated land fragmentation and poverty levels in the area. socio-economic conditions and access to agricultural. 30 . The general trend observed was a decrease in shrub-grassland at a rate of 21. This is due to the growing and unabated population pressure. The change in land tenure and growing fragmentation of land following the 1975 land reform has accentuated the changes in the pattern of land use and land cover.5 ha per year and a decrease in riverine trees at a rate of 16. public and institutional services. however. Land and livestock form the basis of peoples’ livelihood. mainly the expansion of bare land (in line with Malthusian perspectives).

and unpublished data. national. There is a trend towards ‘more people. and international levels because the consequences of degradation have no boundaries. more trees’ in the study area. The following recommendations are made:  The people in the study area are confronted with problems of poverty and resource degradation which require solutions which integrate development and conservation measures. The household level tree planting practice is a praiseworthy initiative because it could have ecological advantages. The local people must be involved in all development activities and resource conservation in order to ensure sustainability. In this regard. However. but lower available N. This is a major threat to the agricultural sector of the study area. and soil organic matter (SOM) compared to soils in the reference sites. In addition. This trend may be a result of the ongoing community afforestation programme and private initiatives to check the expansion of gullies around croplands. Gete (1997) and Belay (2002). 1994) and Woldeamlak (2002). regional. P. soils in open grasslands showed higher sand content. Moreover. creating off-farm employment opportunities for the population. further development and environmental planning in the locality should take into account the direction and magnitude of land use and land cover change patterns. and reducing human and livestock population pressure on the land.The land use and land cover change and associated problems observed in the area have environmental implications at local. K+. but in contrast to the findings of Kebrom & Hedlund (2000). Hence. the increase in tree plantation coverage does not imply a favourable change towards sustainable land use and land cover because most of the newly planted areas are planted with eucalyptus trees (to check the expansion of gullies) which are known to have numerous negative ecological effects. 31 . which is in line with the reports made by Muluneh (2003. solutions to the problems of land use and land cover change should include improving the productivity of the agricultural sector through technical intervention. the biodiversity of the area is highly threatened.

However. This gap invites further investigations into the impact of physical factors on the patterns of land use and land cover change and also the associated problems of the environment and the livelihoods of the people in the study area. age of rock formation and fault lines have influenced the area along with the human factors. and soil and water conservation. Although the area of land under tree plantation has increased. 32 . the general trend in land use and land cover change in the area has not benefited soil fertility.  As the study area is located in the Great Rift Valley system. multipurpose agro-forestry should be introduced that can satisfy the need for wood. livestock fodder. For this reason. physical factors such as physiographic location. where relatively recent rock formations and major and minor faults are found. to date no study of the impact of these physical factors on the local environment and the livelihoods of the people has been conducted. soil fertility improvement.

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ntnu.no/geografi Acta Geographica-Trondheim is the continuation of Papers from the Department of Geography.www. University of Trondheim.no/geografi ISSN 1502-2390 Innovation and Creativity Addis Ababa University . which came out 1978-2001. Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Addis Ababa University Ethiopia http://www.ntnu.

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