Effects of Land Use Change on Land Degradation Reflected by Soil Properties along Mara River, Kenya and Tanzania


Human-induced changes to natural landscapes have been identified as some of the greatest threats to freshwater resources. The change from natural forest cover to agricultural and pastoral activities is rampant especially in the upper Mara River catchment (water tower), as well as along the course of the Mara River. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of land use change on the physico-chemical properties of soil (bulk density, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and pH) along the course of the Mara River. Five major land uses (agricultural lands, livestock/pastoral lands, forested lands, conservancy/game reserves, and natural wetland) were explored. Results revealed that the mean soil bulk density was 0.956 g/cm3 and differed significantly between sites (p < 0.001). Live biomass values differed significantly between sampling sites (land use types) within the Mara River Basin (F(4, 147) = 8.57, p < 0.001). The mean infiltration over a period of 150 minutes differed, not only among sampling sites, but also between different sides of the river (left and right) within the same sampling site. Soil pH was generally acidic across the five sites and varied significantly (F(4, 63) = 19.26, p < 0.0001) between sites along the Mara River Basin. The mean percentage soil nitrogen across all sampling blocks was 4.87%, with significant differences observed in percentage soil nitrogen (F (4, 63) = 3.26, p < 0.006) between sampling sites. The results indicated that the five land use types affected land degradation differently along the Mara River, while adjacent land degradation affected water physico-chemical properties. These results point to the need to have focused policies on integrated land and water resource management strategies in the Mara River Basin.

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Matano, A. , Kanangire, C. , Anyona, D. , Abuom, P. , Gelder, F. , Dida, G. , Owuor, P. and Ofulla, A. (2015) Effects of Land Use Change on Land Degradation Reflected by Soil Properties along Mara River, Kenya and Tanzania. Open Journal of Soil Science, 5, 20-38. doi: 10.4236/ojss.2015.51003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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