Land cover patterns in sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly changing. This study aims to quantify the land cover change and to identify its major determinants by using the Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact, Responses (DPSIR) framework in the Ethiopian Gozamin District over a period of 32 years (1986 to 2018). Satellite images of Landsat 5 (1986), Landsat 7 (2003), and Sentinel-2 (2018) and a supervised image classification methodology were used to assess the dynamics of land cover change. Land cover maps of the three dates, focus group discussions (FGDs), interviews, and farmers’ lived experiences through a household survey were applied to identify the factors for changes based on the DPSIR framework. Results of the investigations revealed that during the last three decades the study area has undergone an extensive land cover change, primarily a shift from cropland and grassland into forests and built-up areas. Thus, quantitative land cover change detection between 1986 and 2018 revealed that cropland, grassland, and bare areas declined by 10.53%, 5.7%, and 2.49%. Forest, built-up, shrub/scattered vegetation, and water bodies expanded by 13.47%, 4.02%, 0.98%, and 0.25%. Household surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs) identified the population growth, the rural land tenure system, the overuse of land, the climate change, and the scarcity of grazing land as drivers of these land cover changes. Major impacts were rural to urban migration, population size change, scarcity of land, and decline in land productivity. The outputs from this study could be used to assure sustainability in resource utilization, proper land use planning, and proper decision-making by the concerned government authorities.
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