TOWARDS A REMOTE SENSING BASED ASSESSMENT OF LAND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DEGRADATION: EXAMINING SEASONAL VARIATION IN LAND USE-LAND COVER FOR MODELLING LAND DEGRADATION IN A SEMI-ARID CONTEXT
Keywords: Land Use-Land Cover, Land Degradation, Remote Sensing, LANDSAT, Semi-arid region, Supervised Classification, Maximum Likelihood, Land Change Modeler
Abstract. Land degradation (LD) is among the major environmental and anthropogenic problems driven by land use-land cover (LULC) and climate change worldwide. For example, poor LULC practises such as deforestation, livestock overstocking, overgrazing and arable land use intensification on steep slopes disturbs the soil structure leaving the land susceptible to water erosion, a type of physical land degradation. Land degradation related problems exist in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Botswana which is semi-arid in nature. LULC and LD linkage information is still missing in many semi-arid regions worldwide.Mapping seasonal LULC is therefore very important in understanding LULC and LD linkages. This study assesses the impact of seasonal LULC variation on LD utilizing Remote Sensing (RS) techniques for Palapye region in Central District, Botswana. LULC classes for the dry and rainy seasons were classified using LANDSAT 8 images at Level I according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Organization of Standardization (ISO) code 19144. Level I consists of 10 LULC classes. The seasonal variations in LULC are further related to LD susceptibility in the semi-arid context. The results suggest that about 985 km² (22%) of the study area is susceptible to LD by water, major LULC types affected include: cropland, paved/rocky material, bare land, built-up area, mining area, and water body. Land degradation by water susceptibility due to seasonal land use-land cover variations is highest in the east of the study area where there is high cropland to bare land conversion.