Corresponding Author

Girma Alemu Melka


The dynamics of land use-land cover changes is one of the phenomena which interweave the socio-economic, political, and environmental issues in Ethiopia. This study investigated the land use-land cover (LULC) changes in the Majang Zone of Gambela Region, Ethiopia over a period of 33 years from 1985 to 2018. Four sets of Landsat imageries (i.e.,1985, 1996, 2007, and 2018) were the input data from which LULC maps were produced and analyzed using remote sensing and GIS applications. Concurrently, key informants’ interviews, focus group discussions, and questionnaires were used to identify and describe the drivers of LULC changes. The LULC change analysis revealed a continuous decline of forest lands throughout the first (1985-1996), second (1996-2007), and third (2007-2018) study periods by 10.7%, 17%, and 31.5%, respectively. Similarly, shrub/grasslands decreased in all consecutive three periods by 22%, 29.5%, and 63.7%. On the contrary, settlement areas increased by 53.6% in the first, 102.4% in the second, and 65% in the third period. Agricultural lands also expanded over the study periods by 34.8%, 17.6%, and 26.5%, respectively. The overall results of the analysis showed that between the years 1985 and 2018, forest lands, shrub/grasslands, and water bodies declined by 49.7%, 80%, and 42.3%, while agricultural lands and settlement areas increased by 100.6%, and 413%, respectively. Along with the dynamics, population pressure, land tenure policy, cropland expansion, and settlement expansion were identified as the leading causes that triggered LULC changes observed over the 33 years of the study period. The findings indicated that the Majang zone has been subjected to extensive agricultural investments and settlement expansions at the cost of forest lands and shrub/grasslands. Therefore, it is important to prioritize and design strategies for better LULC systems and natural resource conservation for integrated and sustainable development.

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