An Investigation of Land Cover Change in Mafungabusi Forest, Zimbabwe, Using GIS and Participatory Mapping

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"This paper investigates the processes governing land cover change in and around the Mafungabusi Forest Reserve in Zimbabwe. Land cover change was analysed using aerial photography from 1976-1996 within a Geographic Information System (GIS). Perceived change and its causes were investigated through governmental data sources, participatory mapping and interviews with the local community and forest guards. It is found that whilst forest cover within the forest reserve has remained stable, there has been a steady decline in forest cover outside the forest reserve's boundaries. "This paper explores three aspects of land cover change in and around Mafungabusi. Firstly, changes in land cover between 1976 and 1996 are assessed using historical aerial photography. Secondly, land use is described using participatory interviews centred on recent aerial photographs. Finally, comments from these interviews about underlying drivers of land use change (population, soil fertility, and enforcement within the park) are compared, both between respondents and with other data sources. The reasons for the adoption of this strategy were two-fold. Firstly, whilst remote sensing studies can identify changes in land cover, the changes in land use that lead to vegetation change are very difficult to determine without follow-up fieldwork on the ground. Secondly, vegetation change as perceived by land users may differ from actual vegetation change and be an important determinant of behaviour among those using local natural resources. Participatory mapping techniques were therefore used to elicit information from residents about land use and perceived land cover change."



IASC, common pool resources, forest management, mapping, PRA, GIS, landscape change--case studies