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STREAM DYNAMICS RELATED LAND CHANGES AND IMPLICATIONS TO LAND MANAGEMENT IN A MARGINAL GRABEN ALONG THE NORTHERN ETHIOPIAN RIFT VALLEY [Abstract ID: 0607-05]
Changes in land use are of primary concern in the development of dryland areas. This paper investigates changes in land use relating to river dynamics in northern Ethiopia. Aerial photographs from 1965 and 1986, and SPOT images from 2007 and 2014, were used to observe land units. Changes in land use had taken place in 48% of the entire landscape around the river in the last five decades. The most systematic transitions in terms of gain were from shrubland to farmland, alluvial deposit to settlement, and alluvial deposit to active channel and settlement. Most of these transitions were related to river dynamics and point to cyclic transitions: farmland – active channel – alluvial deposits – grassland/shrubland – farmland. Human intervention and natural vegetation succession were also very important. The findings of this study indicate that land management activities in graben bottoms should take into account both the role of natural river distributary systems in land changes and human activities related to the reclamation of land previously captured by rivers. Land management interventions such as soil and water conservation measures (both in upper catchments and graben bottom), flood control measures (such as gabion structures, levees and sand embankments) should take into account the behaviour and impact of river systems. Moreover, allowing the rivers to follow their natural course will help to ensure sustainable river related land management, and hence reduce the risk to Pharma livelihoods.