Drivers of forest degradation and its impact on forest sustainability: a case of Mount Elgon, Trans – Nzoia County, Kenya

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University of Dar es Salaam
Forest degradation one of the leading threat to forests worldwide. The threats are due to increased demand for farming land, excessive commercial logging, and forest fires. Over half of the tropical forests have been and are currently experiencing deterioration despite the fact that they play an essential task in delivering essential ecosystem services thus combating poverty in most rural setups. The main objective was to investigate the impact of forest degradation on forest sustainability. Both qualitative and quantitative methods have been used. Household surveys, key informant interviews, and direct field observations were conducted. Landsat imagery spanning from 1984 to 2017, was explored for analysis of land cover changes and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was used a proxy to measure the condition (health) of the forest. The findings of the study indicate direct drivers like agricultural expansion, illegal logging of timber, forest fires, and infrastructure development while on the other hand, indirect drivers such as poverty, population influx, increased demand for timber products have impacted negatively on the forest ecosystem, NDVI values indicate the deterioration of the Mt. Elgon forest condition between1984and 2017. Likewise, agriculture has expanded from 45 percent to 75percentin the same period. Expansion of agriculture and the deterioration of the forest condition has resulted in decreased ecosystem service provided by the forest like food, fuel wood, medicinal plants, regulating services and cultural services. The study concludes that the ability of the forest to continue providing the ecosystem services (sustainability) depends on curbing the causes of degradation. It is recommended that measure to arrest the degradation of the forest should be taken to avoid further deterioration that will result poverty exacerbation by the communities dependent on ecosystem services of Mt. Elgon.
Available in printed form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF GE140.K4L962)
Environment degradation, Forest degradation, Environment quality, Mount elgon, Trans-nzoia, Kenya
Lyndah, R (2019) Drivers of forest degradation and its impact on forest sustainability: a case of Mount Elgon, Trans – Nzoia County, Kenya.Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.