Blue Nile Hydrosolidarity

Understanding Recent Land Use/Cover Change Dynamics in the Source Region of the Upper Blue Nile, Ethiopia

The objective of this paper was to quantify long-term land use and land cover changes (LULCC) and to identify the spatial determinants of locations of most systematic transitions for the period 1957–2009 in the Jedeb watershed, Upper Blue Nile Basin.

Black and white aerial photographs of 1957 and Landsat imageries of 1972 (MSS), 1986 (TM), 1994 (TM) and 2009 (TM) were used to derive ten land use and land cover classes by integrated use of Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS). Postclassification change detection analysis based on enhanced transition matrix was applied to detect the changes and identify systematic transitions. The results showed that 46% of the study area experienced a transition over the past 52 years, out of which 20% was due to a net change while 26% was attributable to swap change (i.e. simultaneous gain and loss of a given category during a certain period). The most systematic transitions are conversion of grassland to cultivated land (14.8%) followed by the degradation of natural woody vegetation and marshland to grassland (3.9%). Spatially explicit logistic regression modeling revealed that the location of these systematic transitions can be explained by a combination of accessibility, biophysical and demographic factors. The modeling approach allowed improved understanding of the processes of LULCC and for identifying explanatory factors for further in-depth analysis as well as for practical interventions for watershed planning and management.