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Forest cover dynamics and underlying driving forces affecting ecosystem services in western Kenya

journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-25, 00:00 authored by BK Kogo, L Kumar, Richard KoechRichard Koech
Deforestation poses a threat to sustainability of forest ecosystem services and socio-economic development in many parts of Kenya. Understanding the trend and extent of forest cover changes and the underlying driving forces over time is pertinent for sustainable management of ecosystems. However, in many parts of the country, such information is still somewhat unknown due to limited data availability for multi-temporal analysis. This paper focuses on western Kenya, a major agricultural region of biodiversity and water catchments that are under threat from forest cover dynamics. The study analyses the status of the forests in the region with the aim of determining the areal extent of coverage, trends in forest cover, drivers of change and associated impacts of deforestation. To achieve these objectives, remote sensing techniques were used to undertake supervised classification on Landsat images of 1995, 2001, 2010 and 2017 with classification scheme of forest and non-forest land cover classes. The results of the study showed that the changes in forest cover varied over time and space. There was considerable net gain in forest areas by about 43% between the period 1995–2001, and thereafter, a continuous decrease ending in a 12.5% loss by 2017. Deforestation in the region is caused by a combination of complex factors that include population pressure, politics and failures in implementation of policy. This study determined the forest cover dynamics and driving forces across diversified sub-basins, an approach that had not been used by previous studies in the region. Thus, the findings will provide valuable information for decision making pertaining to integrated land use and catchment management in order to realize the enormous benefits of sustainable forest ecosystems. The information will not only be important to the study area, but equally applicable to similar tropical regions.




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Elsevier BV, Netherlands



Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Acceptance Date


External Author Affiliations

University of New England

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment