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Forests 2018, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9010008

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

1
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
2
School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, UK
3
Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), P.O. Box 62000, Nairobi 00200, Kenya
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 11 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: land-use change; intensity analysis; systematic transition; deforestation land-use change; intensity analysis; systematic transition; deforestation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Mwangi, H.M.; Lariu, P.; Julich, S.; Patil, S.D.; McDonald, M.A.; Feger, K.-H. Characterizing the Intensity and Dynamics of Land-Use Change in the Mara River Basin, East Africa. Forests 2018, 9, 8.

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