The research applied Geographic Information Systems (GISs) and remote sensing tools in quantifying land cover changes in Nkayi District and assess the drivers for such changes. This was done to link the impacts of anthropogenic activities to change in the physical environment especially looking at ecosystem goods and services, which in turn reduce their productivity. Satellite images were analyzed for 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2017 in order to produce temporal land cover maps for Nkayi District and use them as tools for estimating the rates and the extent to which land cover has changed from 1990 to 2017. Four main land cover types were identified, namely woodland, deforested land, cultivated land, and water bodies. In 1990, woodland covered 58% of the total land area in Nkayi District, while deforested land, cultivated land, and water bodies covered 31, 11, and 0.2%, respectively. From 1990 to 2017, woodland declined to 47% in 2017, while deforested land and cultivated land increased to 14.9 and 36%, respectively. The major drivers of land cover changes were increase in household numbers, which were associated with woodland clearing for agriculture. The other drivers of land cover changes were soil infertility and overgrazing by livestock. The research was crucial in detecting the problems of forage shortages and poor rangeland conditions, mainly caused by expanding fields coupled with infertile Kalahari sands. The research highlighted the urgent need to manage the fragile miombo woodlands, which are being threatened by the increased demand for land for human settlements and cultivation. Alternatively, the research also highlights the need for farmers to produce more biomass in their fields in the form of high-value crop residues to cater for the loss of rangelands.
Part of the book: Vegetation