Land cover and land use mapping and change detection of Mau complex in Kenya using geospatial technology

The significance of the Mau complex is viewed within the context of the en ormous biodiversity of flora and fauna. We evaluate land cover and use chan ges from 1973 to year 2010 through creation of geospa tial tool for change detection. Analysis i s carried out on trend of changes over this period with focus of identifying hum an activities responsible for these changes as we ll as the environmental impacts associated with th e changes. Supervised classification has b een applied on Landsat images of 1973, 1986, 2000 and 2010 with classification scheme of three main classes namely - forestland, other vegetation, and non-vegetated land. Post classification of both visual and area com parisons were done to get information on th e trends, rates and m agnitude of land cove r and land use changes in the Mau forest comple x over time. A variation in the greenness of the vegetation present in the pixel over time was done through normalized difference in vegetation inde x (NDVI) with density slices ranging from 0.25 μ m to 1.00 μ m (range of vegetation cover). The results of the study have showed that changes in land use and land cover had occurred in all the 22 bloc ks of Mau forest complex and resulted in the reduction of forest cover. It was further revealed that there was relationship between i ncrease in population and decrease in forest cover and that, steep slopes were cleared of their fo rest as land use changed and subsequent loss of biodiversity and partly led to redu ction in rainfall and subsequent decrease in river discharge.