2.1. Description of the Study Area
This protocol is extracted from research article:
Land Use/Land Cover Change and Its Driving Forces in Shenkolla Watershed, South Central Ethiopia
ScientificWorldJournal, Feb 18, 2021; DOI: 10.1155/2021/9470918

The study was conducted in Shenkolla watershed, covering 1457 ha in south central Ethiopia. The geographical location of the area falls within the coordinates of 7°24′30″–7°27′0″ N latitude and 37°43′30″–37°46′30″ E longitude (Figure 1). The altitude ranges from 2200–2830 m, which is characterized by gently sloping to rolling plateaus with moderate to high relief hills and dissected side slopes.

Map of the study site in southern Ethiopia.

The climate of the watershed is characterized generally as a tepid submoist midhighland with a long-term average rainfall of about 1107 mm with bimodal pattern having Belg (traditional division of the year with light rain) usually from March to May and the Meher (traditional division of the year with heavy rain) from June to September. The annual average temperature of the study area is 17.2°C (Figure 2).

Mean monthly rainfall and temperature values of the study area.

Geological formation is dominated by the quaternary volcanics composed of acidic parent materials (rhyolites, trachytes, etc) [27]. Nitisols are the most dominant soil types along with Vertisols, Cambisols, and Planosols that cover extensive areas of agricultural fields [27].

Subsistence farming is the major source of livelihood relying on rain-fed crop cultivation with the major crops being wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), teff (Eragrostis tef) (Zucc. Trotter), maize (Zea mays L.), barley (Hordium vulgare L.), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.), horse beans (Vicia faba L.), and potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). The homestead garden fields are characterized by Enset (Ensete ventricosum) and with interspersed trees that increase the fertility of the soil. Under normal climatic conditions, the cultivation of crops is possible during both Belg (traditional division of the year with light rain) and Meher (traditional division of the year with heavy rain).

Due to the intense pressure of population growth and land scarcity, it is almost impossible for farmers to practice the appropriate fallow length. This resulted in dramatic land use/land cover changes in the watershed. The current land use/land cover types of the study area were categorized broadly into two categories: forest land and agricultural land. The forest cover of the study area also comprises natural and plantation forests, while the agricultural land includes cultivated land, small plots of grazing lands, and scattered rural settlements. During the past four decades, the conversion of forest into agricultural land in the Shenkolla watershed was quite intense. As a result, the agricultural land use class covers the largest proportion of the study area.

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