The Nigerian government is reviving the agricultural sector to shift from its sole dependence on crude oil for foreign exchange earnings. Thus, the Cocoa Belt (agro-ecological region) of southwest Nigeria is important to the national economy. With the increasing demand for land to grow export crops and to meet other needs such as settlement expansion, land use is changing. Land-use data and mapping are essential inputs for the process of formulating, implementing, and monitoring policy with the aim of reducing the impact of land-cover/land-use (LCLU) change. Land-use types, their spatial extent and dynamics over a 25 year period are examined from multispectral images of the Landsat Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus. This study examines the main drivers of LCLU change and the environmental impact. Results show that forest conversion to agricultural lands is the main trend, and cultivation is the main cause of forest loss in the study area. The need to produce food for the teeming population, coupled with the government's policy to expand export crop production is resulting in the loss of native forest, including areas designated as forest reserves. Results underscore the need for deliberate land-use planning and management in this belt. This study reveals the situation of unplanned and rapid changes to land use in the context of a developing country where explicit policies to cater for such activities are absent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)