Land use/Land Cover Changes and Causes of Deforestation in the Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, Nigeria
The objective of this paper is to provide the non-existent data on land use/land cover changes in the Wilberforce Island for the purposes of determining the causes of deforestation and changes in the vegetation cover for a 13 – year period. Accordingly, 125 questionnaires were administered in five communities to determine the causes of deforestation. Satellite imageries for 2002 and 2015 were also acquired from Landsat 7 and 8 respectively and analysed with the Quantum Geography Information System (QGIS) software to obtain the various land use/land cover changes. The semi – Automatic Classification Plugin Version 4.9.1 of the QGIS was used for the land use/land cover classification with a supervised classification method. Each satellite imagery was classified into 8 categories using their reflectance values and the error matrix was used to show the level of accuracy of the classified imageries. Results from the study indicated that the major drivers of deforestation were logging, farming, building of houses and fuel wood fetching. Results from satellite imageries also showed that forest and sparse vegetation/grassland decreased from 73.34% and 10.32% to 51.34% and 8.08% between 2002 and 2015 respectively, while farmland and residential area increased from 10.71% and 0.44% to 30.575 and 1.72% for the same period respectively. It was concluded that land use/cover changes was due to deforestation to provide raw materials for wood industries, and space for agriculture and building of house for the increasing population in the area. The implications of deforestation for biodiversity and climate change have been highlighted.
Keywords: Deforestation, land use/land cover changes, Wilberforce Island