Consequences of Temporal Land Cover Changes on Ecosystem Services in Babile Elephant Sanctuary, Eastern Ethiopia
Land cover (LC) change has been identified as one of the leading drivers of change in the ecosystem and its services. However, information on the impact of temporal land cover change on the ecosystem and ecosystem services in Ethiopia is largely unknown. Thus, this study examined the impacts of temporal LC changes on the ecosystem and ecosystem services (ESs) provision in Babile Elephant Sanctuary (BES) during the period of 1977 to 2017 using a landsat image analysis and questionnaire survey. In BES, woodland covered the largest area in the year 1977, 1997 and 2017, followed by bushland and agricultural land. However, there was a consistent decline in woodland and bushland from 56.5% and 31.1% coverage in the year 1977 to 45.3 and 27.2% in the year 2017, respectively. Agricultural land and settlements increased from the year 1977, when they covered about 3.5 and 0.1%, respectively to 2017, when they covered 17.3 and 3.4%, respectively. We found significant (p<0.05) differences in the social perception of the positive and negative impacts of land cover change on ecosystem services. The respondents recognized the negative impact of agricultural land expansion and settlement on the ecosystem such as the provision of wild food, livestock feed, medicinal plants, fresh water, fuel-wood, raw materials and climate regulation leading to an increase in food shortage and vulnerability to frequent drought and flood. Therefore, it is necessary to take urgent measures to prevent the losses in ecosystem and ecosystem services as a result of land cover change that occurs because of human activities.
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