Characterized by high population density on a rugged topography, the Gedeo-Abaya landscape dominantly contains a multi-strata traditional agroforests showing the insight of Gedeo farmers on natural resource management practices. Currently, this area has been losing its resilience and is becoming unable to sustain its inhabitants. Based on both RS-derived and GIS-computed land-use/cover changes (LUCC) as well as socioeconomic validations, this article explored the LUCC and agroecological-based driver patterns in Gedeo-Abaya landscape from 1986 to 2015. A combination of geo-spatial technology and cross-sectional survey design were employed to detect the drivers behind these changes. The article discussed that LUCC and the prevalence of drivers are highly diverse and vary throughout agroecological zones. Except for the population, most downstream top drivers are perceived as insignificant in the upstream region and vice versa. In the downstream, land-use/cover (LUC) classes are more dynamic, diverse, and challenged by nearly all anticipated drivers than are upstream ones. Agroforestry LUC has been increasing (by 25% of its initial cover) and is becoming the predominant cover type, although socioeconomic analysis and related findings show its rapid LUC modification. A rapid reduction of woodland/shrubland (63%) occurred in the downstream, while wetland/marshy land increased threefold (158%), from 1986 to 2015 with annual change rates of - 3.7 and + 6%, respectively. Land degradation induced by changes in land use is a serious problem in Africa, especially in the densely populated sub-Saharan regions such as Ethiopia (FAO 2015). Throughout the landscape, LUCC is prominently affecting land-use system of the study landscape due to population pressure in the upstream region and drought/rainfall variability, agribusiness investment, and charcoaling in the downstream that necessitate urgent action.
Keywords: Agroecology; Agroforestry; Drivers; Ethiopia; Gedeo-Abaya landscape; Land-use/cover changes.