Past and Future Land Use/Land Cover Changes in the Ethiopian Fincha Sub-Basin
Regasa, Motuma Shiferaw
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The increasing human pressure on African regions is recognizable when looking at Land Use Land Cover (LULC) change maps, generally derived from satellite imagery. Using the Ethiopian Fincha watershed as a case study, the present work focuses on (i) identifying historical LULC change in the period 1989–2019; (ii) estimating LULC in the next thirty years, combining Geographical Information Systems (GIS) with Land Change Modelling (LCM). Landsat 5/8 images were combined with field evidence to map LULC in three reference years (1989, 2004, 2019), while the Multi-Layer Markov Chain (MPL-MC) model of LCM was applied to forecast LULC in 2030, 2040, and 2050. The watershed was classified into six classes: waterbody, grass/swamp, built-up, agriculture; forest; and shrub. The results have shown that, in the past 30 years, the Fincha watershed experienced a reduction in forest and shrubs of about -40% and -13%, respectively, mainly due to ever-increasing agricultural activities, and such a trend is also expected in the future. In fact, for the period 2019–2050, LCM simulated a significant decrease in both forest and shrubs (around -70% and -20%, respectively), in favor of more areas covered by grass (19%) and built-up (20%). It is worth noting that a decrease in natural forests can drive an increase in soil erosion, fostering siltation in the water reservoirs located in the sub-basin. The study pointed out the urgency of taking actions in the sub-basin to counteract such changes, which can eventually lead to a less sustainable environment.