Effect of Land Use/Land Cover Change on Groundwater Recharge in Osun Drainage Basin, Nigeria

Keywords: Land use and land cover, Groundwater, recharge, WetSpass, Osun drainage basin


Osun drainage basin is one of the regions in Nigeria experiencing increasing population growth and rapid urbanization; and about 70% of the inhabitantsrely on shallow groundwater resources of the region. Change in land use/land cover is one of the significant factors controlling regional hydrology and groundwater resources, thus the continuous change in land use and land cover of the drainage basin will significantly affect the basin’s groundwater resources. There are 7 classified land use/land cover in the study area which are bare surfaces, built up area, crops/shrubs, forest, rock outcrops, water bodies and wetland. Applying WetSpass-M hydrological model, we predicted the effect of land use/land cover change on the groundwater recharge in Osun drainage basin, Nigeria between 1984-2015. The results revealed that the highest groundwater recharge of 48.56%, 33.64% and 37.29% occurred in forested area in 1984, 2000 and 2015, respectively. This result might be due to the influence of vegetation in slowing down the speed of running water across the forest area, that allows more infiltration and deep percolation into the water table to recharge the groundwater system. On the other hand, the least groundwater recharge of the total annual was on the rock outcrops, which are about 4% in 1984, 3% in 2000 and 2% in 2015. The least recharge found on rock outcrops is expected and may be attributed to the fact that infiltration can only occur around or on decomposed rock outcrop, which may result in minute recharge to the groundwater system. The mean annual groundwater recharge of the basin for the land use/land cover of 1984, 2000 and 2015 are476.54, 411.07 and 430.06 mm/y, respectively. Overall, for the 32 years period of investigation, change in land use/land cover accounts for only 10% reduction in mean groundwater recharge occurrence between 1984 and 2015. Also, there is a change in recharge pattern in the study area during this period because most often, change in land use/land cover is a transition from one land use/land cover class to another, and the recharge pattern is influenced based on the degree of transition that took place and the characteristics of the dominant land use/land cover at a particular area of the basin. Although, the 10% reduction in mean annual recharge appears minute, this might become pronounced if the current rate of deforestation in the drainage basin continues unabated. Therefore, proper land use allocation, regulated land development and afforestation in terms of planting of native trees that were lost through anthropogenic activities in the basin should be policy option for groundwater sustainability.

Author Biographies

E. D. Ashaolu
University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria
J. F. Olorunfemi
University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria
I. P. Ifabiyi
University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria


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