Assessment of Land Degradation Neutrality Status in North Wello Zone, Northern Ethiopia

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Getnet Zeleke
Menberu Teshome (P.hD)
Linger Ayele (P.hD)


Land degradation is becoming more widely acknowledged in Ethiopia as a critical national environ-mental issue. This study aimed to analyze land productivity dynamics trends and land degradation neutrality conditions in the North Wello Zone using three United Nations Convention to Combat Desert- ification (UNCCD) indicators: land cover change, land productivity dynamics, and soil organic carbon stock, during the period between 1995 and 2018 based on a "one out, all-out" approach. Landsat 5 and Landsat 8 satellite images, as well as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), obtained from the Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MOD13Q1) datasets, were used to examine the land use, land cover change, and land productivity trends. Soil organic carbon data were obtained from the global soil organic carbon database, which is available on the website. The grided soil carbon map was developed as 250 m soil grids, covering a depth of 0-30 cm. The results showed increases in urban areas, agricultural lands, barren lands, and forest land with the annual rate of change (1995-2018) of 4.4%,0.39%, and 0.04 %, respectively. Water bodies and shrubland, on the other hand, decreased by 2.8 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, each year. Agricultural land, which covered the majority of the surface area during the study period, remained persistent (57%) and expanded to shrublands (10.6%), barren land (3.8%), and forest (0.5 %). Agricultural land, on the other hand, was converted to shrublands (4.6 percent), barren land (0.7 percent), forest land (0.6 percent), and urban areas (0.05 percent) during the study periods. Based on land productivity dynamics param- eters, productivity increased across 10% of the study area during the study period and decreased to 7% of the land area. A large proportion of land surface in the study area (57.8%) was characterized as early signs of productivity decline. Stable land under stress (19.5%) was significantly higher than sta- ble areas (6 % of the study area). The lowest content of soil organic carbon stock (less than 50 tons of carbon per hectare) coincided with cropland and barren land areas. In contrast, the highest soil organic carbon concentrations, between 86 and 166 tons of carbon per hectare, were found in areas associated with forest lands. The spatial distribution of degraded status of land in the North Wello administrative zone occurred in 75% of the total area. The areas with "stable" land status covered 15% of the total area, while areas with "improvement" land status covered only 10% of the total area. The findings suggest that balancing measures to achieve land degradation neutrality in the study area should be implemented as soon as possible.

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