Date of Award
Master of Science
Geography and Environmental Resources
The Kagera basin in East Africa has experienced major land surface loss in tropical forests, woodlands, and savannas due to the conversion of land for agricultural purposes. This has resulted in soil degradation, siltation, eutrophication, desertification, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Damages in the Kagera have also led to pollution and sedimentation in Victoria Lake which receives water from the basin. These environmental changes have an effect on people in this region who largely depend on the natural resources. It has been indicated that these problems are mainly due to population growth as this region has the highest population growth and density when compared to sub-Saharan countries. However, previous studies conducted in this region have not investigated the spatial relationship between population growth and LULC changes. The aim of this study was to quantify LULC changes that occurred from 1984 to 2011, and predict future scenarios. Another goal of this study was to investigate the spatial relationship between population growth/density and LULC changes, and its socioeconomic influences. A post classification change detection method and Markov chain model of LULC change were used to analyze the past and future LULC dynamics. Administrative level census data of Kagera was used to calculate population growth and density, and these were overlaid to LULC change. The assessment of change for the period of 1984-2011 overall showed a major expansion of agriculture at the expense of woodland savanna. This was mainly attributed to demographic and socioeconomic/political changes prior to and during the study period. Population growth and density were linked to transitions to agriculture, and agriculture dominance during the study period. In addition, the oil price shocks of the 1970's that led to the adoption of Structural Adjustment Program were implicated as the major global macroeconomic influence in the use of resources, mainly in the agriculture sector. Internal policies such as Tanzania's "Ujama" villagization of production, and biophysical factors such as precipitation and proximity to water bodies were also implicated to the LULC changes. The findings in this study imply that understanding inter-relationship of factors is critically important, and the issue of LULC change must be approached in a holistic manner.
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