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Land use change and its drivers in Kurt Bahir wetland, north-western Ethiopia

Shewit, G, Minwyelet, M, Tesfaye, M, Lewoye, T, Ferehiwot, M
African journal of aquatic science 2017 v.42 no.1 pp. 45-54
Landsat, anthropogenic activities, deforestation, ecosystem services, grazing, grazing lands, harvesting, land use change, remote sensing, vegetation, wetlands, Ethiopia
The effects of land-use change on ecosystem services in Kurt Bahir wetland were investigated during 2013 to 2014 using LANDSAT satellite images from 1973, 1986, 2002 and 2013 to identify and map changes in land-use classes over time. To understand perceptions of changes in ecosystem services that resulted from observed land-use changes discussions were held with local key informants and focus group participants. Accuracy assessment was done on the 2013 classified image. In 1973, the land-use classes of the wetland comprised wetland and grazing land, with area coverages of 764.5 and 268.4 ha, respectively. The land-use classes in 1986 were wetland, grazing land and cultivated land, with area coverages of 585.7, 198.3 and 248.9 ha, respectively. The land use of the study area in 2002 was similar to that of 1986. In 2013–2014, however, there was a substantial increase in cultivation and grazing lands at the expense of the wetland, as compared to 2002. Respondents confirmed that free grazing, the harvesting of vegetation, deforestation and expansion of cultivated land were the major threats. This study indicated that land-use change is the main driver of wetland degradation and loss. It is recommended that government organisations should give due emphasis to overcome the anthropogenic effects and to develop a management plan for the sustainable utilisation of the wetland’s ecosystem services.