Land use/cover change patterns in highland ecosystems of Lake Bunyonyi Catchment in western Uganda
Land use and cover changes influence the livelihood and degradation of fragile ecosystems. The extents of these changes in pattern were investigated in Lake Bunyonyi Catchment which lies in the South Western Highlands of Uganda. The dynamics and magnitude of land use and cover changes were assessed using Landsat (TM/ETM+) satellite images and collection of socio-economic data through interviews. The images were processed and analysed using the mean-shift image segmentation algorithm to cluster and quantify the land use and cover features. The study noted that in the assessment period 1987-2014, the small-scale farmlands, open water and grasslands remained quasi constant; while the woodlots followed a quadratic trend, with the lowest acreage experienced in 2000. The tropical high forests and wetlands cover types experienced significant decline over the years (P<0.05). Patches of small-scale farmlands, woodlots, and wetland interchangeably lost or gained more land dependant on climate variability. Even though the tropical high forest lost more than it gained, it only gained and lost to small scale farmland and woodlots; while grassland mainly lost to small scale farmland and woodlots.
Keywords: Land degradation, landsat images, land-use/cover dynamics, South-western Uganda