Relationship of Attributes of Soil and Topography with Land Cover Change in the Rift Valley Basin of Ethiopia Academic Article uri icon


  • Understanding the spatiotemporal trend of land cover (LC) change and its impact on humans and the environment is essential for decision making and ecosystem conservation. Land degradation generally accelerates overland flow, reducing soil moisture and base flow recharge, and increasing sediment erosion and transport, thereby affecting the entire basin hydrology. In this study, we analyzed watershed-scale processes in the study area, where agriculture and natural shrub land are the dominant LCs. The objective of this study was to assess the time series and spatial patterns of LCC using remotely-sensed data from 1973 to 2018, for which we used six snapshots of satellite images. The LC distribution in relation to watershed characteristics such as topography and soils was also evaluated. For LCC detection analysis, we used Landsat datasets accessed from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) archive, which were processed using remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques. Using these data, four major LC types were identified. The findings of an LC with an overall accuracy above 90% indicates that the area experienced an increase in agricultural LC at the expense of other LC types such as bushland, grazing land, and mixed forest, which attests to the semi-continuous nature of deforestation between 1973 and 2018. In 1973, agricultural land covered only 10% of the watershed, which later expanded to 48.4% in 2018. Bush, forest, and grazing land types, which accounted for 59.7%, 16.7%, and 13.5% of the watershed in 1973, were reduced to 45.2%, 2.3%, and 4.1%, respectively in 2018. As a result, portions of land areas, which had once been covered by pasture, bush, and forest in 1973, were identified as mixed agricultural systems in 2018. Moreover, spatial variability and distribution in LCC is significantly affected by soil type, fertility, and slope. The findings showed the need to reconsider land-use decision tradeoffs between social, economic, and environmental demands.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Ayele, G. T., Seka, A. M., Taddese, H., Jemberrie, M. A., Ndehedehe, C. E., Demissie, S. S., ... Melesse, A. M.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Ayele, Gebiaw T||Seka, Ayalkibet M||Taddese, Habitamu||Jemberrie, Mengistu A||Ndehedehe, Christopher E||Demissie, Solomon S||Awange, Joseph L||Jeong, Jaehak||Hamilton, David P||Melesse, Assefa M

publication date

  • July 2022