Mapping land use land cover changes and their determinants in the context of a massive free labour mobilisation campaign: Evidence from south wollo, Ethiopia

B.T. Tessema*, M. Lengoiboni, J.A. Zevenbergen, Belay Simane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Northern Ethiopia is characterised by fragile mountain eco-systems that are highly susceptible to land degradation, impacting food security and livelihoods. This study appraises Land Use Land Cover Changes (LULCC) and their determinants from 2000 to 2020 in Dessie Zuria and Kutaber Woredas. It explores the LULCC and the key anthropogenic drivers of the change over the past 20 years through a mix of satellite imagery and a survey of local understandings. Six land use types (agriculture, forest, area closure, grazing, settlement and bare land) were mapped from satellite imagery that was acquired from Landsat 7 for the years 2000, 2005, and 2010, and Landsat 8 and OLI multispectral imageries for the years 2015 and 2020 with a spectral resolution of 30-m obtained from USGS. The results showed that agricultural land increased from 29.68% in 2000 to 35.77% in 2020.Furthermore, settlement and grazing lands enlarged from 5.95% and 6.04%, respectively, to 8.31% and 6.35% during the same period, while bare land increased from 9.89% to 10.92% in 2020. On the contrary, forest and area closure decreased from 18.45% and 29.99% to 17.8% and 17.38%, respectively. Meanwhile, population growth, unrestricted grazing, losing a sense of ownership of protected area closures and forests, lack of cooperation, using the free labour mobilisation schemes for government-induced agendas, weak enforcement of laws and bylaws, and engaging farmers for extended days on the campaign were prominent determinants of the changes. This research has implications for development actors across land management and food security towards implementing sustainable land management in the area and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5078
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalRemote sensing
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2021


  • LULCC; Remote sensing; GIS; area closure; satellite imagery; forest; free labour mobilisation; drivers of change; campaign

Cite this