Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics and Driving Forces in Simien Mountains National Park, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

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Ebrahim Esa

Abstract

The Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP) was inscribed by UNESCO as world heritage site in 1978 due to its unique landscapes and rich biodiversity resources. However, many parts of the park have been farmed for more than 2,000 years and is seriously degraded due to unsustainable land utilization. The main purpose of this study is to quantify the magnitude and rate of change of major land use/land cover (LULC) types by identifying the major drivers of change in SMNP using GIS and remote sensing techniques. Three Landsat images of the periods between 1985 and 2015 were classified and analyzed using Erdas Emagine 13 and ArcGIS 10.1. The results of LULC analysis indicated that a remarkable expansion was observed in shrubs cover by 110.8% (79 ha/y) followed by farmland and settlements by 53.7% (81 ha/y) between 1985 and 2015 although some portions of their original extent were converted into other LULC classes. The results also indicated that the reduction of areas under forests and grassland covers by about 56.4% (98 ha/y) and 49% (142 ha/y) were evident. The major institutional and policy factors identified in the study area were civil war between 1976 and 1991,changes in political structure and land reform of 1997. However, population pressure in the park was the most important human factor of land use and land cover change. Therefore, sustainable management in the park is vital to curb the biodiversity depletion and loss of tourist attractions in the area.

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