Browsing by Author "Maeda, Eduardo"

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  • Maeda, Eduardo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    The indigenous cloud forests in the Taita Hills have suffered substantial degradation for several centuries due to agricultural expansion. Currently, only 1% of the original forested area remains preserved in this region. Furthermore, climate change imposes an imminent threat for local economy and environmental sustainability. In such circumstances, elaborating tools to conciliate socioeconomic growth and natural resources conservation is an enormous challenge. This dissertation tackles essential aspects for understanding the ongoing agricultural activities in the Taita Hills and their potential environmental consequences in the future. Initially, alternative methods were designed to improve our understanding of the ongoing agricultural activities. Namely, methods for agricultural survey planning and to estimate evapotranspiration were evaluated, taking into account a number of limitations regarding data and resources availability. Next, this dissertation evaluates how upcoming agricultural expansion, together with climate change, will affect the natural resources in the Taita Hills up to the year 2030. The driving forces of agricultural expansion in the region were identified as aiming to delineate future landscape scenarios and evaluate potential impacts from the soil and water conservation point of view. In order to investigate these issues and answer the research questions, this dissertation combined state of the art modelling tools with renowned statistical methods. The results indicate that, if current trends persist, agricultural areas will occupy roughly 60% of the study area by 2030. Although the simulated land use changes will certainly increase soil erosion figures, new croplands are likely to come up predominantly in the lowlands, which comprise areas with lower soil erosion potential. By 2030, rainfall erosivity is likely to increase during April and November due to climate change. Finally, this thesis addressed the potential impacts of agricultural expansion and climate changes on Irrigation Water Requirements (IWR), which is considered another major issue in the context of the relations between land use and climate. Although the simulations indicate that climate change will likely increase annual volumes of rainfall during the following decades, IWR will continue to increase due to agricultural expansion. By 2030, new cropland areas may cause an increase of approximately 40% in the annual volume of water necessary for irrigation.