Assessment of environmental impacts of river basin development on the riverine forests of eastern Kenya using multi-temporal satellite data
The utility of Landsat MSS (Multispectral Scanner) and SPOT XS data in monitoring the impacts of river basin development on a riverine forest located in the lower Tana River Basin of eastern Kenya was evaluated. Land cover change maps derived from Landsat MSS indicated little change in total forest area between 1975 and 1984. Land cover change maps derived from SPOT XS data indicated a 27% decline in forest area between 1989 and 1996. Mean patch size and area-perimeter ratio of the closed riverine forest remained virtually unchanged whereas these parameters for the open forest class decreased by 31% and 4% respectively. In addition, the average extent of the open riverine forest from the river channel declined by about 200 m between 1989 and 1996. This decline was attributed to decreased extent of floods along the floodplain following construction of dams in the upper river basin, and increased exploitation of the forests for fuelwood, especially in the vicinity of the established Bura Irrigation and Settlement Project. The greater lateral movement observed in the location of the river channel for the 1975-1985 period, compared to the 1985-1996 period, was also attributed to construction of dams in the upper river basin.