A Research Proposal
A. Significance of the Study
Land and its uses are essential to all human communities. Every person is shaped in a range of ways by the landscape in which they live, and the products and resources produced on the land. Land and its uses are particularly important for rural communities, where many people are directly dependent on land for their livelihood, and the way land is used has a central role in defining the identity of an area and its community. Land as defined by FAO (1976) is “an area of earth’s surface, the characteristics which embrace all reasonably stable or predictably cyclic attributes of the biosphere vertically above and below this area, including those of the atmosphere, the soil, the underlying geology, the hydrology, the plant and animal population and the results of the past and present human activity, to the extent that these attributes influence on the present and future use of the land”. Land is an important element on earth that is involved in every human activity. This refers to land use. Land use defined in this way establishes a direct link between land cover and the actions of people in their environment (Di Gregorio & Jansen, 1998). In restrictive terms, it refers to those activities of man on, in, over and under the earth’s surface that tend to change the natural state of the land (Serote, 2004). Land use change is a general term for the human modification of Earth's terrestrial surface. Though humans have been modifying land to obtain food and other essentials for thousands of years, current rates, extents and intensities of land use change are far greater than ever in history, driving unprecedented changes in ecosystems and environmental processes at local, regional and global scales. These changes encompass the greatest environmental concerns of human populations today, including climate change, biodiversity loss and the pollution of water, soils and air (Williams et al., 2008). Land use change can either be by natural cause or man induced. Land use changes made in land imply impact both on human and environment. In socioeconomic terms, land is one of three major factors of production in classical economics (along with labor and capital) and an essential input for housing and food production. Thus, land use is the backbone of agricultural economies and it provides substantial economic and social benefits. Land use conversion is necessary and essential for economic development and social progress. This land use conversion results to land use change. Environmentally speaking, land–use changes are arguably the most pervasive socioeconomic force driving changes and degradation of ecosystems. Deforestation, urban development, agriculture, and other human activities have substantially altered the Earth’s landscape. Such disturbance of the land affects important ecosystem processes and services, which can have wide–ranging and long–term consequences. There are already studies that have been conducted to determine the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of land use changes in their own respective localities or area of interest. It has been one of the major issues today. According to Sala et al., (2000) land-use changes are so pervasive that, when aggregated globally, they significantly affect key aspects of Earth System functioning. They directly impact biotic diversity worldwide contribute to local and regional climate change (Chase et al., 1999) as well as to global climate warming (Houghton et al., 1999); are the primary source of soil degradation (Tolba et al., 1992); and, by altering ecosystem services, affect the ability of biological systems to support human needs (as cited by...