The impact of increased population and sedentarization of the pastoral communites on the land cover and the resources of mount Marsabit forest and the surrounding lands
Oroda, Ambrose Sunya
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This study was carried out to examine and determine the impacts of increased human population and the sedentarization of pastoral communities on the land cover and resources of Mt. Marsabit Forest and the immediate surrounding lands. The first objective of this study was to determine the impacts of increased human population and the subsequent land fragmentation and human sedentarization on the resources of Mt. Marsabit Forest and the immediate surrounding lands. The second objective was to determine the changes in land cover of Mt. Marsabit Forest and the surrounding lands as a result of the increased population and subsequently the increase in land fragmentation between 1973 and 2005. The refreshingly unique microclimatic conditions on the Mt. Marsabit forest have attracted human population from the harsh drylands surrounding the forest by sustaining livelihoods through small scale arable farming. This forest is a very important resource in the district supporting livelihoods of a significant proportion of the population. The area has experienced increased settlements that have led to occupation of former dry season grazing lands and also caused over-exploitation of resources that has led to environmental degradation. In carrying out this study, modem geo-spatial technologies of Remote Sensing, Geographical Information System and Global Positioning System were used to study the dynamics of land cover and land use. Multi-date Landsat satellite images acquired between 1973 and 2005 were interpreted and analysed. The results of the analyses show that the forest cover decreased by about 5861 ha, from 18400 ha in 1973 to about 12500 ha in 2005 (a decrease of 32%). However, analysed statistically, the changes have been found to be insignificant when spread throughout the study period because the major changes occurred in only 6 years of the 32 study period. The area under agriculture increased by about 700% between 1973 and 2005 while the area under urban settlements increased by about 300%. Results obtained indicate that more than 2,500 tonnes of wood-fuel are removed from the forest annually while internally the forest is being degraded through cutting of trees to feed livestock and for other needs such as construction materials. In conclusion, increased land sub-division and sedentarisation have resulted in a decrease in the forest cover and also caused forest degradation. The increased sedentarisation has also resulted in increased agricultural activities particularly towards the marginal areas . The study strongly recommends the protection of the forest, particularly from internal destruction and also recommends immediate development of a Mt. Marsabit land use policy to help in the planning and management of the forest and the immediate surrounding lands. The study also recommends further studies to determine the extent of the internal forest destruction, and also further studies relating the changes in land cover to climate change.