Studies on land-use/land cover (LULC) changes through remote sensing techniques represent vital tools for generating rational information for sound decision making on natural resources management. Related to the launching of the first Landsat satellite in 1973 there is a region of attention on the use of remote sensing techniques as tool for planning the appropriate management in rangelands. This study therefore aimed at mapping LULC changes and identifying the associated changes that have occurred in the Borana rangelands up to 2003 as well as assess pastoralist perceptions on the driving forces. Landsat image scenes of Multispectral Sensor, Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus acquired in 1973, 1986 and 2003 were used to investigate LULC changes over time. The analysis of images revealed that woodland cover of the Borana rangelands increased from 11.3% in the 1973 to 49.26% in 2003. However, grassland cover declined from 58 to 32% during the same period. Cultivated areas gradually increased from 2 to 5% but it is lower compared to the woodland cover expansion rate. The decrease of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values for 2003 compared to the 1973 is also an evident for the reduction of vegetation. Severe droughts, population increase, poor government policy are among the major drivers of LULC changes in the study area. The implementation of appropriate pastoral land-use policies based on the ecological potential of the region and pastoralists local knowledge have all been suggested for ensuring sustainable management of Borana rangeland and improve the livelihood of pastoralists.
Key words: Land use land cover, land absorption coefficient, land consumption rate, normalized difference vegetation index.
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