Land-use change and its socio-environmental impact in Eastern Ethiopia's highland
Regional Environmental Change
Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, 1390 Hamasaka, Tottori, 680-0001, Japan; Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, 202002 UP, India; Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle University, Tigray, P.O. Box 231, Mek'ele, Ethiopia; Institutes for Soil, Climate and Water, Agricultural Research Council, 600 Belvedere Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0083, South Africa
The Alemaya district (Eastern Ethiopian highlands) is characterized by undulating physiographic features with arid, semi-arid, and humid climatic conditions. This study evaluated socio-environmental changes in land use and land cover during 1985-2011. Screen digitization on remotely sensed data (i.e., Landsat images from 1985 to 2011) was performed to produce 10 classes of land use and land cover. Then, final land-use maps were prepared using a geographic information system following field verification and accuracy assessment. The drying of water bodies, including the prominent lakes Alemaya, Adele, and Tinike, had been the most important environmental change observed. Degraded land, marsh, perennial cropland, and residential areas increased by 37, 438, 42, and 190 %, respectively, whereas grassland, plantation, shrubland, and temporal cropland decreased by 64, 11, 63, and 29 %, respectively. The increase in land degradation (+37 %), the other major observed problem, has made large areas unsuitable for agriculture and has reduced crop productivity. These land-use and land-cover changes have affected both the environment and the livelihoods of local residents; especially the issue related to land degradation requires urgent attention. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.