The Fate of Taita Hills Forest Fragments: Evaluation of Forest Cover Change between 1973 and 2016 Using Landsat Imagery

Chemuku Wekesa, Bernard Kibet Kirui, Elias Kingoina Maranga, Gabriel Mukuria Muturi
2020 Open Journal of Forestry  
Landsat images were used to evaluate changes in forest cover of five forest fragments (Chawia, Fururu, Mbololo, Ngangao and Vuria) between 1973 and 2016. The forest fragments are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, a global biodiversity hotspot that boasts outstanding diversity of flora and fauna and a high level of endemism. Landsat imageries of 1973, 1987, 2001, 2012 and 2016 were analyzed using ArcGIS version 10.0 to provide information on forest cover change of the fragments between 1973 and
more » ... ts between 1973 and 2016. Results showed that the annual rate of deforestation was 0.5% and was similar to global estimates. The forest fragments lost 23.2% of forest cover between 1973 and 2016. The forest area lost was higher in Vuria (43.0%) and Chawia (32.7%) which are non-gazetted forests managed by the County government of Taita Taveta but lower in Fururu (3.2%), Mbololo (13.7%) and Ngangao (16.8%) which are gazetted forests managed by Kenya Forest Service. Fururu and Mbololo forest fragments gazetted in early 1990s suffered less loss in forest cover compared to Ngangao, which was gazetted 12 years later. Gazettement of forests could preclude further forest degradation and loss by improving their management for effective provision of ecosystem services and conservation of biodiversity.
doi:10.4236/ojf.2020.101003 fatcat:ffmnvyju3ndulm75tft3edqf2i