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Remote sensing for resources development and environmental management
Damen, M. C. J.

Symposium on Remote Sensing for Resources Development and Environmental Management / Enschede / August 1986
An integrated study of the Nairobi area - Land-cover map
based on FCC 1:1M
F.Grootenhuis & H.Weeda
Nairobi, Kenya
Landplan, Nairobi, Kenya
ABSTRACT: The goal of the study was to explore the suitability of readily available LANDSAT
imagery (in photographic form) for landscape planning in a developing country. The exercise
focussed on the complex landscape of the Nairobi region. Visual interpretation formed the
basis for a physiographic map at 1:1 Million (1:1M) scale describing the form of the earth
surface of the study area. Representative traverses were chosen and fieldwork was carried out
along these cross-sections. The integration of the field recordings and the .zoning from the
physiographic map produced a land-cover map at 1:1M scale depicting the features present on
the earth surface.
The results of the analysis of the land-cover pattern at the scale 1:1M are suitable for use
as basic information for integrated planning. The results are cost effective in terms of the
investment of time and money required, and represent a valuable input to the planning process.
Planning for development requires knowledge
of the ecological conditions for a sustaina
ble use of renewable natural resources (Tolba
1982). In landscape planning emphasis is
given to the bio-physical components of the
landscape and their interaction. An integra
ted study of these factors should be the
first step (McHarg 1969).
This paper describes the information that
could be drawn from LANDSAT images readily
available at a scale 1:1M as an orientation
for landscape planning (Duchhart 1986).
The study has been undertaken as a follow up
of the Extended Training Course on Remo
Sensing and Rangeland at the Regional Remote
Sensing Facility (RRSF) in Nairobi, Kenya
(October 1983 to March 1984).
Figure 1 . Location of the study area and the
physiographic cross-sections.
The area chosen for the study covers approxi
mately 60 km x 60 km and includes the city
of Nairobi. The boundaries of the study area
extend from Limuru to Athi River and from
the Ngong Hills to Thika, excluding the
Gregory Rift Valley (Figure 1).
Major topographic, climatic and vegetation
gradients run northwest to southeast across
the area, resulting in the complex landscape
around and within the city of Nairobi.
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and the
fastest growing and most influential city in
Eastern Africa. Population growth over the
period 1984-1988 is expected to be 7,6% per
annum,, including 2,6% as a result of rural-
urban migration (Government of Kenya 1983)
This implies that the population will dpuble
in 10-12 years. The consequent demands for
housing, services, work, water, food and
energy are increasing rapidly.
Located on the edge of the slopes of the
Aberdares and the Athi-Kapithi Plains, Nairo
bi manifests a variety of land-use conflicts.
Some of these are inherent in the location
at the inter-face between the pastoral socie
ties developed on the plains and the agri
cultural societies developed in the highlands,
others are more complex conflicts resulting
from the many possible uses of productive
land in a metropolitan area.
2.1 Materials
The study was limited to readily available
materials. These included the collection of
LANDSAT false colour composite (FCC) trans
parencies at 1:1M scale held at the RRSF and
the LANDSAT images 180/61 of January 24th,
1976 and 181/61 of January 25th, 1976 formed
the basis for the study. They were chosen
since they were almost cloud-free and of bet
ter quality than any of the other images.