Retrospective Analysis of Land Use Land Cover Dynamics Using GIS and Remote sensing in Central Highlands of Ethiopia

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Assessing and quantifying the current forest resources status underpins sustainable forest resources planning and management. To this end, this study was conducted to analyze the dynamics of land use cover change (LUCC) and explore their drivers at the central highlands of Dry Afromontane Chilimo-Gaji forest for the study period (1973-2015) under consideration. The result of the study indicated that landscape trends have occurred in Chilimo-Gaji forest over the last 43 years and five classes of LUCC namely shrub land, rural settlement, bare land and road, forest land and agricultural land were identified. The most commonly reported drivers of deforestation in the study area were expansion of agricultural land, rural settlements, population growth, insecurity of the tenure and rights over the land, timber production and fuel wood collection. Surprisingly, the increasing demand for agricultural land and human settlement for increasing human population underpinned by expansion of agricultural activities led to the clearing of forest land in the study area. The study reveals that the forest land cover type has lost 922.14 hectares (26.96 %) which were changed into other land cover types such as agriculture and settlement for the study period under consideration with an annually rate of 21.45 ha. However, deforestation rates showed declining trend between the time periods 2008-2015 as a result of introduction of Participatory Forest Management (PFM) schemes (1996) which involve the local community in management and sharing of the benefit obtained from the management. In order to promote sustainable forest resources management in the study area in the years to come, integrated land use planning and management and addressing key drivers of deforestation were recommended.

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