Dynamics and drivers of land use and land cover changes in Migori River Watershed, western Kenya region

Understanding land use and land cover (LULC) change dynamics and their contributing factors are critical for developing sustainable land management strategies. Therefore, this paper assesses the trends and patterns of LULC changes and their drivers in the Migori River watershed in Kenya from 1980 to 2020. The spatial analysis is based on remote sensing data based on the maximum likelihood classifier algo- rithm; whereas the analysis of the drivers is based on index-based ranking and logistic regression of 318 households’ survey data. The results show that between 1980 and 2020, the watershed experienced a considerable decline in shrub lands by 40.63% ( 235.97 km2), grasslands by 84.86% ( 59.14 km2), for- ests by 52.90% ( 98.36 km2), water by 82.03% ( 39.27 km2) and wetlands by 38.44% ( 3.69 km2); whereas cultivated land, bare land and built-up areas expanded over the same period by 34.25% (+347.42 km2), 132.28% (+60.95 km2) and 461.20% (+25.32 km2), respectively. The results of the house- hold survey revealed that the perceptions of the locals tended to corroborate these observed LULC pat- terns obtained from spatial analysis, with 60.50% (n = 192) of the respondents reporting a significant expansion in agricultural land use (at p < 0.05), and 75.80% (n = 241) observing a significant decline in forest areas in the watershed (at p < 0.05). Fuel wood collection, timber/poles production, agricultural expansion, population pressure, and high poverty are the major drivers of these LULC changes. The find- ings also revealed that educational level significantly influenced the survey participants’ perceptions con- cerning these drivers. The paper concludes that the watershed’s natural landscapes have been undergoing destruction at the expense of human settlement and infrastructural developments driven by anthro- pogenic activities. Therefore, there is a need, among others, for land use zoning to regulate conflicting land uses on the watershed between settlement, conservation, and agricultural lands.
Opiyo, S. B., Opinde, G., & Letema, S. (2022). Dynamics and drivers of land use and land cover changes in Migori River Watershed, western Kenya region. Watershed Ecology and the Environment,Volume 4,2022, Pages 219-232,ISSN 2589-4714. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsee.2022.11.008