Impacts of Land Use Changes on Ecosystem Services in Saiwa Wetland, Trans Nzoia County, Kenya
Deng, Rebecca Awuor
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Kenya has a number of wetland ecosystems that support diverse habitats both at the rural and urban areas. These wetlands provide a number of ecosystems services even though they are under tremendous threat due to land use change, agricultural intensification manifested by the decrease in their hydrological, ecological and economic support they provide to the surrounding environment. Saiwa wetland is one of the largest wetlands in Trans Nzoia County that supports biodiversity development and act as a source of livelihood to communities living around it. This study therefore sought to find out the impacts of land use changes on wetland ecosystem services using Saiwa wetland as the case study. The objectives of the study was to review the existing legislations and policy framework that deal with protection and conservation, map the extent and patterns of land uses and investigate the impact of land use changes on socio-economic provisions of Saiwa wetland. The study employed a diagnostic research design; both primary and secondary data were collected. Primary data was collected through the use of interview schedules, questionnaires, photography and observation. Secondary data was solicited from existing records on the implication of land use changes on wetlands, wetland policy documents from government and non-governmental agencies and remotely sensed maps to study the chronological trends and patterns of land uses and land use change over the past 27 years. The collected data was analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques using descriptive statistics for calculation of frequencies, means and percentages. A GIS and Remote sensing-based assessment of land uses and land cover was carried out in order to facilitate presentation of summarized data and enable assimilation of data which provided a quick comparison of variables using different sets of data. The study finding indicates that local communities living around Saiwa wetland mainly depends on the wetland for their livelihoods which include farming, grazing, and water. During the period between 1988-2017, forest decreased by 8.96%, Grassland decreased by 103.33%, Shrub land decreased by 17.36%, Settlements increased by 101.64% and agriculture increased by 12.57 % respectively over the same period of time. Therefore, there is need to harmonize various land uses with the existing Saiwa wetland ecosystem for sustainable management of the Wetland.