ASSESSMENT OF LAND TENURE, LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGES IN TAITA HILLS FOREST FRAGMENTS: A CASE STUDY OF NGERENYI FOREST FRAGMENTS IN TAITA TAVETA COUNTY, KENYA

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Date
2020-01-23
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Pwani University
Abstract
The indigenous Taita Hills cloud forest is fragmented to 5ha or less forest cover, except Chawia, Ngangao, and Mbololo forests which are fragments of more than 5ha. This fragmentation due to changing land uses, threatens the forest biodiversity and land cover. The study assessed the land tenure characteristics and the land use and land cover (LU&LC) changes in Taita hills forest fragments of Ngerenyi area over the past three decades (1987 up to 2017). The specific objectives of the study included establishing the land tenure system in Ngerenyi area, determining the drivers of change in land tenure, land use and land cover, and establishing land use and land cover change in the study area. Questionnaires administered by the researcher were used to generate data on the type of land tenure systems and the drivers of change in land use and land cover changes. Land use and land cover changes were obtained by analyzing multispectral satellite data obtained from Landsat 4-5 1987 and 2008, Landsat 7 1999, and Landsat 8 2017 using Arc GIS software. Supervised classification was applied to detect land use and land cover while change detection analysis was carried to quantify land use and land cover changes. The main land tenure system is freehold land ownership with land use and land cover changes driven by both natural and human induced factors, including agricultural expansion and drought. The study shows both an increase and decrease in the different land use and land cover classes with significant shifts from one class to another. Agricultural and dense vegetation land use and land cover have since been converted to built-up surfaces and light vegetation by 17 percent and 7 percent respectively. An average annual positive change of built-up surfaces of 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent average annual positive change in light vegetation. Agricultural land use and dense vegetation declined significantly by 4 percent and 20 percent respectively between 1987 to 2017. The land tenure has remained the same, however, the land use and land cover have changed over the time period in Ngerenyi area depicting the fragile nature of the Taita Hills forest fragments. The study recommends for education and awareness on the ecological relevance of the forest cover and further studies toxivbe carried out to establish the impacts of the land use and land cover changes on the ecology of the Taita Hills forest fragments in Ngerenyi area
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