Implications of land use/land cover dynamics and Prosopis invasion on ecosystem service values in Afar Region, Ethiopia

Shiferaw, Hailu; Bewket, Woldeamlak; Alamirew, Tena; Zeleke, Gete; Teketay, Demel; Bekele, Ketema; Schaffner, Urs; Eckert, Sandra (2019). Implications of land use/land cover dynamics and Prosopis invasion on ecosystem service values in Afar Region, Ethiopia. Science of the total environment, 675, pp. 354-366. Elsevier 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.220

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Land use/land cover (LULC) dynamics and the resulting changes in ecosystems, as well as the services they provide, are a consequence of human activities and environmental drivers, such as invasive alien plant species. This study assessed the changes in LULC and ecosystem service values (ESVs) in the Afar National Regional State, Ethiopia, which experiences a rapid invasion by the alien tree Prosopis juliflora (Swartz DC). Landsat satellite data of 1986, 2000 and 2017 were used in Random Forest algorithm to assess LULC changes in the last 31 years, to calculate net changes for different LULC types and the associated changes in ESVs. Kappa accuracies of 88% and higher were obtained for the three LULC classifications. Post-classification change analyses for the period between 1986 and 2017 revealed a positive net change for Prosopis invaded areas, cropland, salt flats, settlements and waterbodies. The rate of Prosopis invasion was estimated at 31,127 ha per year. Negative net changes were found for grassland, bareland, bush-shrub-woodland, and natural forests. According to the local community representatives, the four most important drivers of LULC dynamics were climate change, frequent droughts, invasive species and weak traditional law. Based on two different ESVs estimations, the ecosystem changes caused by LULC changes resulted in an average loss of ESVs in the study area of about US$ 602 million (range US$ 112 to 1091 million) over the last 31 years. With an increase in area by 965,000 ha, Prosopis-invaded land was the highest net change during the study period, followed by grassland (−599,000 ha), bareland (−329,000 ha) and bush-shrub-woodland (−327,000 ha). Our study provides evidence that LULC changes in the Afar Region have led to a significant loss in ESVs, with serious consequences for the livelihoods of the rural people.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Eckert, Sandra






[411] Woody invasive alien species in East Africa
[803] Cluster: Land Resources




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2019 18:03

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:28

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Ecosystem service values, Land use and cover dynamics, Machine learning algorithm, Random forest classifier, Prosopis juliflora, Ethiopia




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