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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 614249, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/614249
Research Article

Land Use and Land Cover Change, and Woody Vegetation Diversity in Human Driven Landscape of Gilgel Tekeze Catchment, Northern Ethiopia

1Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle University, Mek’ele, Ethiopia
2Department of Geography, Ghent University, Belgium
3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium

Received 8 January 2014; Revised 7 April 2014; Accepted 14 April 2014; Published 12 June 2014

Academic Editor: Guy R. Larocque

Copyright © 2014 Samuale Tesfaye et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Land use and land cover (LULC) change through inappropriate agricultural practices and high human and livestock population pressure have led to severe land degradation in the Ethiopian highlands. This has led to further degradation such as biodiversity loss, deforestation, and soil erosion. The study examined woody vegetation diversity status and the impact of drivers of change across different LULC types and agroecological zones in Gilgel Tekeze catchment, northern Ethiopian highlands. LULC dynamics were assessed using GIS techniques on 1976, 1986, and 2008 satellite images. Vegetation data were collected from 135 sample plots (20 m × 20 m) from five LULC types, namely, forest, shrub-bush, grazing, settlement, and cultivated land, in the three agroecological zones; Kolla, Weyna-Dega, and Dega. Differences in vegetation structure and composition and their relationship to agroecological zones were tested using two-way ANOVA and PCA technique. The results show that vegetation structure and composition significantly differed across all LULC types in different agroecological zones particularly in sapling density, tree height, and shrub height and in each agroecological zone between forest land, shrub-bush land, and settlement area. Overall, Weyna-Dega agroecological zone and the shrub-bush land had more structural and compositional diversity than the other agroecological zones and LULC types.