Detection of land cover changes around Lake Mutirikwi, Zimbabwe, based on traditional remote sensing image classification techniques

  • T Dube
  • W Gumindoga
  • M Chawira


Land cover changes around Lake Mutirikwi in 1984–2011 were mapped from Landsat images using traditional image classification methods including the maximum likelihood classifier algorithm. The possibility of mapping the coverage and abundance of surface floating aquatic weeds was also tested. Landsat images from 1984, 1995, 2001 and 2011 were used to compute a normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), which was then used as a proxy for indicating areas infested by surface floating aquatic weeds. Forest and shrubs covered 310.8 km2 in 1984, but had deteriorated by 24.87% to 77.3 km2 in 2011, while the area under cultivation increased by 51.44% between 1984 and 2011. Runoff from surrounding farms could be responsible for washing soil nutrients into Lake Mutirikwi, enriching its water. A large aggregation of surface floating aquatic weeds concentrated upstream along tributaries of Lake Mutirikwi, mainly the Mucheke which received sewage from Masvingo town, with less coverage in the central parts of the lake. Vegetation indices such as NDVI proved successful as a proxy for mapping the coverage of surface floating aquatic weeds in Lake Mutirikwi in space and time.

Keywords: eutrophication, land cover classification, Landsat, NDVI, surface floating aquatic weeds

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2014, 39(1): 89–95

Author Biographies

T Dube
Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
W Gumindoga
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
M Chawira
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Harare, Zimbabwe

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914