Land use changes in the lake Nakuru catchment: implications on environmental planning and management
Lake Nakuru Catchment covers an area estimated at over 1837 square kilometers. It has a fragile ecological system which has increasingly had permanent human settlements locating there over the last one hundred years. Within this period, land use conditions have dramatically changed, causing major concerns on environmental sustainability of the entire catchment. This study undertook to investigate the actual land use changes that have taken place in the catchment in the past twenty-six years. It also analyses the biological and physical characteristics of the catchment in order to reveal the environmental implications of changes in land use and recommend appropriate planning interventions The Study reveals major changes in land use over the study period. This includes changes in the proportions of land area covered by forests from 42 percent of the entire catchment area to 22 percent. Small-scale farmlands accounted for 39 percent of the total catchment land are in 1999 as compared to 9 percent in 1973. Other changes include a reduction in the proportion of land areas covered by large-scale farmland from 29 percent to 14 percent. In contrast, reduction in the number of large-scale farms has taken place in tandem with an increase in urban land from 1 percent to 14 percent. Institutional mandates, strengths and weaknesses together with the legal framework under which they operate are analysed with a view to coming up with an effective framework under which land use planning within the catchment should be undertaken in the future. The study especially notes the lack of application of modem technology in land use change information acquisition IV and analysis namely Satellite Remote Sensing and Geographic information Systems (GIS) within the Catchment. The study arrives at the conclusion that land use change in the catchment is evolving in such a way that continued growth in the number of small-scale farmlands should draw special attention of urban and rural planners and conservationists in the catchment. The study takes particular note that transition of land use into the small-scale land units is a transitory step and that this transformation process points towards a land conversion process from rural/agricultural land use to urban use. Some areas in which the study makes recommendations include remedial measures that focus on farmer conservation training and community involvement in conservation efforts. It also recommends intensified urban and regional planning and institutional collaboration in land use change monitoring, planning and control as a means towards sustainable land use within the catchment. In particular, the study identifies the need for establishment of a Lake Nakuru Catchment Authority to be responsible for environmental management within the area and to serve as a coordinator of all the other institutions currently having specific environmental mandates. As a means of achieving its objectives, the authority should establish a land use and environmental information system utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing Techniques.
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