JGIS  Vol.6 No.3 , June 2014
Geospatial Evaluation for Ecological Watershed Management II: Changes in Land Use—Land Cover Influence on Ecosystems Services

Ecosystem services are a key to human survival and global sustainability. Consequently, there is the need to avoid unscrupulous or unplanned land use practices that can compromise these services in addition to the ongoing changes in the global climate whose potentially negative impact are yet to be fully comprehended thus far. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the Land use—land cover changes of some Eastern Shore sub-watersheds of Maryland from 1986-2006 and qualitatively assess the impact of the changes on some key ecosystem services. Landsat-TM data for Maryland Eastern Shore in the United States were analyzed in ENVI and ArcGIS environment and data interpreted qualitatively. The result showed that forest lands increased during the study period and thus enhanced carbon sequestration favorable for mitigating global warming in the area. Also, the extent of surface water cover increased slightly, possibly due to rising sea level and a thus a potential threat to biodiversity and barrier islands nearby. There was also a significant increase in urban lands due to population increase and thus increase in the extent of impervious layers that could lead to reduced surface runoff and increase the potential for surface water quality impairment; this could lead to a reduction in the capacity of surface water ecosystem to provide clean/recreational waters. The increase in the extent of surface water cover was at the expense of the wetlands that shrunk, thereby threatening the coastal ecosystem’s ability to provide services such as storm and wave protection, nutrient cycling, and the protection of wildlife habitat. There was also a decrease in the extent of Agricultural lands which could lead to loss of food and fiber during the study period. There is therefore an urgent need to formulate or intensify existing policies to regulate land use from an ecological health standpoint in order to ensure sustainability of the various ecosystems within the watersheds of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland in the US, and similar coastal locations elsewhere.

Cite this paper
Aighewi, I. , Ishaque, A. and Nosakhare, O. (2014) Geospatial Evaluation for Ecological Watershed Management II: Changes in Land Use—Land Cover Influence on Ecosystems Services. Journal of Geographic Information System, 6, 246-257. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2014.63023.
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