Approaches that bridge the technology and knowledge gaps between policy makers and local communities towards natural resource management are required. This study employed participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS) to assess and identify drivers of land use and land cover changes in Nguruman Sub-catchment. Data were collected following a focus group discussion (FGDs) during which a resource mapping exercise was also carried out. FDGs consisting of 12 members were used to establish changes that had taken place between 1994 and 2004, and between 2004 and 2014. The ten year interval was purposively chosen in order to cater for temporal sensitivity in resource changes by local communities. The participants listed the land use in their respective villages for the years 1994, 2004 and 2014. The land uses listed included forestland, irrigated and rainfed cropland, woodlands and water bodies. This was later presented graphically on manila papers for the respective years to showcase land use and land cover changes as perceived by the local communities. Using a digital camera, photographs of these maps were then taken. Features that acted as boundaries and were also found within the areas drawn were mapped using Global Positioning System (GPS). These features were used for geo-referencing of the mental maps in order to analyze natural resource changes as perceived by the local communities. Results from the PGIS were further transferred and analyzed by the GIS in order to determine the extent and magnitude of changes, based on the local knowledge. Results indicate that local communities have knowledge about the causes and consequences of land use and land cover changes occurring in their areas. Significant (p < 0.05) changes were observed in irrigated cropland areas. The study provides an effective basis to describe and explain the patterns of land use and land cover change including their root causes and consequences based on the community perspective. PGIS is a suitable tool to involve local communities in planning, evaluating, monitoring and managing their own natural resources.
Key words: Land use, community, PGIS, natural resources, Nguruman.
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