Rangeland Suitability Evaluation for Livestock Production Using Remote Sensing and Gis Techniques In Dire District, Southern Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


One of the important issues in practical and sustainable rangeland management is the study of range suitability. Rangelands are complex ecosystems with balanced and accurate relationships among its parts. Correct management of these ecosystems needs adequate knowledge of the various parts to be able to consider their capability for suitable utilizations. Dire district is one of the pastoral districts in southern part of Ethiopia. For many centuries, the rangelands in Dire district were productive. However, high population growth which resulted in increasing demand for arable land, landuse changes, increasing landuse conflicts and bush encroachments led to reduced amount of land for grazing and livestock production. Improper land use results in land degradation and decline in agricultural productivity. Hence, in order to get maximum benefits out of land, proper utilization of its resources is inevitable. Land suitability analysis is needed in order to make proper land use planning. GIS and Remote Sensing offers a convenient and powerful platform to integrate spatially complex and different land attributes for performing land suitability analysis. The present study was intended to analyze and map suitable areas for livestock production in Dire district using GIS and Remote Sensing techniques. Besides, it was aimed at identifying the landcover changes in the study area in the last 25 years and determines the extent and direction of change that has occurred. The study made use of Landsat TM 1986 and 2011 Remote Sensing Satellite Image for analysis to determine the extent and pattern of rangeland change, and Multi Criteria Evaluation in a GIS environment to come up with the final suitability map. In this study, seven suitability factors; rainfall, landuse/landcover, soil, slope, access to water, veterinary service and livestock market center were considered. To arrive at final suitability result for each livestock, weighted overlay technique of Multi-criteria evaluation in a GIS platform was used. The result of the suitability analysis revealed that, 5.6%, 4.9%, 5.4%, and 10.1% of study area is highly suitable for cattle, sheep, goats and camels, respectively. Furthermore 44.75%, 44.15%, 45.5% and 58.6% of the land was classified as moderately suitable for cattle, sheep, goats and camels, respectively. Furthermore, 45.7%, 46.5%, 51% and 31% of the land was classified as marginally suitable for cattle, sheep, goats and camels, respectively. While, 4%, 4.5%, 1.1% and 0.4% were currently not suitable for cattle, sheep, goats and camels, respectively. There is no parcel of land classified as permanently not suitable. Thus, the study showed that the large area of rangeland in Dire district is marginally suitable (with major limitation) for livestock production. The results of the landuse/landcover change detection showed that in the last 25 years, 3 major changes were observed, grass land and open shrub land resource significantly decreased at a rate of 17.1km2/year and 12 km2/year/, respectively. On the other hand in 25 years dense bushland, open bush land, dense shrubland and cultivated land has shown increment in size at a rate of 0.23km2/year, 13.5 km2/year, 6.3 km2/year and 0.2 km2/year, respectively within 25 years. Small area of the district rangeland is highly suitable and wide area of the rangeland is marginally suitable for livestock production. Therefore, implementation of appropriate rangeland management plans in the district is essential. The expansion of unpalatable woody species significantly reduced the rangeland size and availability of grasses. The consequence of the decrease in herbaceous biomass production might result in high risk of food insecurity in the area unless proper interventions are made in time.



Gis and Remote Sensing Techniques, Dire District, Rangeland, Suitability Analysis, Multi Criteria Evaluation, Livestoc