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An Analysis of Urban Land Use/Land Cover Changes in Blantyre City, Southern Malawi (1994-2018)

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Title: An Analysis of Urban Land Use/Land Cover Changes in Blantyre City, Southern Malawi (1994-2018)
Authors: Mawenda, John Browse this author
Watanabe, Teiji Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Avtar, Ram Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Keywords: urban planning
LULC change
transition matrix
systematic transition
Blantyre city
Issue Date: 18-Mar-2020
Publisher: MDPI
Journal Title: Sustainability
Volume: 12
Issue: 6
Start Page: 2377
Publisher DOI: 10.3390/su12062377
Abstract: Rapid and unplanned urban growth has adverse environmental and social consequences. This is prominent in sub-Saharan Africa where the urbanisation rate is high and characterised by the proliferation of informal settlements. It is, therefore, crucial that urban land use/land cover (LULC) changes be investigated in order to enhance effective planning and sustainable growth. In this paper, the spatial and temporal LULC changes in Blantyre city were studied using the integration of remotely sensed Landsat imageries of 1994, 2007 and 2018, and a geographic information system (GIS). The supervised classification method using the support vector machine algorithm was applied to generate the LULC maps. The study also analysed the transition matrices derived from the classified map to identify prominent processes of changes for planning prioritisation. The results showed that the built-up class, which included urban structures such as residential, industrial, commercial and public installations, increased in the 24-year study period. On the contrary, bare land, which included vacant lands, open spaces with little or no vegetation, hilly clear-cut areas and other fallow land, declined over the study period. This was also the case with the vegetation class (i.e., forests, parks, permanent tree-covered areas and shrubs). The post-classification results revealed that the LULC changes during the second period (2007-2018) were faster compared to the first period (1994-2007). Furthermore, the results revealed that the increase in built-up areas systematically targeted the bare land and avoided the vegetated areas, and that the vegetated areas were systematically cleared to bare land during the study period (1994-2018). The findings of this study have revealed the pressure of human activities on the land and natural environment in Blantyre and provided the basis for sustainable urban planning and development in Blantyre city.
Rights: © [2020] by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
Type: article
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