•The forest is predicted to reduce by 65 per cent in size by 2050 with a reduction of 1,700 hectares (4,200.785 acres) per year.
•Cropland will increase by 246 per cent in the area by 2050 with an increase of 3,100 hectares (7,660.255 acres) per year.
A new study has shown that crop farming was responsible for the depletion of closed forests in some of the protected areas in the country.
A study by the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing – Kenya shows that closed forests were reduced by 11 per cent between 1990 and 2019.
The area under cropland however increased by 24 per cent between the years 1990 and 2019.
During the study, medium to high-resolution data (10-30m) was considered to be the main data to map and estimate directly Land use/land cover change.
The study focused on three countries which include Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
In Kenya however, the study was undertaken in Mt. Elgon National Park.
The main aim of the study was to address the challenges of inadequate capacity to develop land cover/use mapping and change maps in East Africa.
Its findings were shared on Tuesday at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development where scientists observing changes happening on the planet are exploring how earth observation data and services can improve community resilience.
The scientists are discussing agriculture and food distribution systems, early warning and disaster preparedness, geo-innovations in health, land administration and management systems, natural ecosystems and biodiversity conservation, smart and green cities, water resources and blue economy.
The three-day conference under the theme 'earth observation services for resilient social systems' seeks to exchange ideas on the application of earth observation information and geospatial technologies for societal benefit.
The study shows that the area under closed forest in 1990 was 155834.5 hectares (385,074.841225 acres), representing a cover of 37.5 per cent.
This is within the protected area and the 10-kilometre buffer.
In the year 2,000, the area under closed forest was 114799.1 hectares (283,674.316055 acres), representing a cover of 27.6 per cent.
In 2010, the area under closed forest was 100475.8 hectares (248,280.72559 acres) representing a cover of 24.2 per cent.
In 2019, the area under closed forest was 111957.5 hectares (276,652.580375 acres) representing a cover of 26.9 per cent.
The study shows that the area that was under open forest in 1990 was 10368.8 hectares (25,621.82324 acres) representing a cover of 2.5 per cent.
The objectives of the study were to access the status of key selected Protected Areas and produce land cover and land cover change maps and related indicators.
It also sought to carry out future predictions of land cover change with a view to supporting long-term natural resources and socio-economic planning, and interventions as well as develop training/user manuals based on the approved methodology.
In 2,000, the area under open forest was 5279 hectares (13,044.67295 acres), representing a cover of 1.3 per cent.
In 2010, the area under open forest was 23496.9 hectares (58,061.27343 acres), representing a cover of 5.7 per cent while in 2019, that area was 16908.3 hectares (41,781.254715 acres), representing a cover of 4.1 per cent.
The area under the open grassland in 1990 covered 116787.6 hectares (288,587.99898 acres), representing a cover of 28.1 per cent while the area in 2,000 was 119102.1 hectares (294,307.244205 acres), representing a cover of 28.7 per cent.
In 2010, the area under open grassland was 99740.6 hectares (246,464.00963 acres), representing a cover of 24 per cent.
In 2019, that area was 70547.8 hectares (174,326.399875 acres), representing a cover of 17 per cent.
In 1990, the area under cropland was 76335.9 hectares (188,629.825695 acres), representing a cover of 18.4 per cent.
In 2,000, the area under crops was 144177.7 hectares (356,270.305585 acres) representing a cover of 34.7 per cent.
In 2010, the area under crops was 144559.3 hectares (357,213.258265 acres) representing 34.8 per cent cover.
In 2019, the area under crops was 172352.3 hectares (425,891.150915 acres) representing a cover of 41.5 per cent.
During the study, the trend lines obtained from the regression analysis were extrapolated to the year 2050.
The forest is predicted to reduce by 65 per cent in size by 2050 with a reduction of 1,700 hectares (4,200.785 acres) per year.
Cropland will increase by 246 per cent in the area by 2050 with an increase of 3,100 hectares (7,660.255 acres) per year.
“Increasing size in area of cropland and reduction of forests can be related to the increase in population,” part of the study says.
Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development Director General Dr Emmanuel Nkurunziza said earth observation technologies continue to provide a linkage between social systems and the potential and unrealized opportunities for societal benefits.
“As Individuals, Societies, Organizations, Institutions, Governments, Countries and continents continue to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”, technological advancements in various domains have become a crucial pillar in building resilient social systems,” he said.