Land Conversions and Forest Dynamics in a Riparian Forest Zone in South East Nigeria

Nwabueze I. Igu (Department of Geography and Meteorology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,Nigeria.)
Joseph O. Duluora (Department of Environmental Management, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,Nigeria.)
Uzoamaka R. Onyeizugbe (Department of Environmental Management, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,Nigeria.)

Article ID: 1449

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jgr.v2i4.1449

Abstract


The rate at which forest ecosystems are lost and modified across tropicallandscapes are alarming, yet proper documentation and proactive measures to curtail this still remains a huge challenge in most areas. Thisresearch focused on elucidating the ongoing land use change patternsof a riparian forest landscape, its current impacts on the ecosystem andland surface temperature, as well as its likely future scenarios for thezone. LANDSAT images were downloaded for 1988, 2003 and 2018and used to show the dynamics for the zone, its drivers and their varyingtemperatures. Maximum Likelihood Classification algorithm was usedfor the classification and the land-use classes were categorized as: Waterbody, Farms and Sparse Vegetation, Built-up Areas, Bare Surface, andThick Vegetation. Furthermore, Markov Chain Analysis was employedfor understanding the future patterns of land use change in the zone. Landuse categories experienced changes over the three epochs, but among all,farmlands/ sparse vegetation and thick vegetation had the most significantchanges from 7.70 to 58.67 percent and 73.56 to 20.58 percent, respectively; implying that much of the forestland use/cover (which constitutedthe bulk of the land initially; 73.56 percent) were converted to agricultural land use. This same trend at which agriculture grew in the zone wasseen to affect the land surface temperature for zone (Pearson correlationcoefficient of 0.99 with p = 0.0058 at 0.05 level of significance). Futureprojection for the zone equally showed that agricultural land use willlikely dominate the entire landscape in the coming years and a consequent impact on the climate and ecosystem expected as well. On thatnote, intensive agricultural practices that seek to maximize allocated farmunits were advocated. Such initiatives will help to ensure that agriculturalgrowth is contained within delimited zones so that haphazard cultivations,reductions in ecological value of the forest landscape and consequent climatic impacts could be managed across the region.

Keywords


Climate change; Biodiversity conservation; Ecosystem services; Livelihoods; Sustainable forest use; Tropical ecosystems

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