Forest fragmentation and loss seriously affect biodiversity. There is need to monitor and assess forest fragmentation and loss in communal areas for effective biodiversity management. In this study, we analysed the extent of forest fragmentation and loss in ward 11, Chiredzi district of Zimbabwe over a 14 year period (1989 to 2003). A multi-method design was adopted for triangulation and verification purposes. This involved the use of GIS and remote sensing techniques for analysis of satellite images of 1989 and 2003. Fragstats was used to compute the density, size and variation of patches between the two years. A patch area method for determining optimum quadrat size was proposed from for observations and measurements were done. Questionnaire surveys were used to complement data produced through GIS analysis. The non aligned block sampling design in which sample locations were randomly nested was used. Questionnaire surveys were used to collect qualitative data. Results show that there is ecologically significant fragmentation and loss of forest. Forest patches increased by 58.04% between 1989 and 2003. A loss of 32.47% of forest area was estimated. People’s perceptions confirm the conclusion that the forest has been significantly fragmented and lost due to collaborative effects of climatic changes and human activities.
Key words: Forest fragmentation and loss, multi-method design, remote sensing, geographic information system, Fragstats, patch area method.
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