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The rapid growth of population and the process of urbanization have resulted in an
increasing demand for land in urban settlements. A city grows not only by population but also by
changes in spatial dimensions. The prime factors of increasing spatial dimension of the city are
also the population growth and related requirements of urban life, such as development of
transport and communication and others infrastructure facilities. The mismatch between the
supply and demand of land leads to the degradation of environmentally fragile land, occupation of
hazard prone areas, and loss of cultural resources, open space and prime agricultural land. Within
the existing built-up areas of cities uncontrolled growth of population and inadequate
infrastructure may cause irreversible losses of cultural resources and open space. Poorly managed
development may also cause excessive urban sprawl and negative impact on air quality, energy
consumption and aesthetic quality. The conversion of prime agricultural land to urban use may
increase costs for locating, storing and purchasing food (Bernstein, 1994).
Moreover, the development of an urban centre as a result of gradual evolution and
metamorphosis of the city, with the market place and profit motive being the principal criteria on
which land use and land value were established is a common phenomenon. This can also lead to
change in land use pattern and urban growth in our growing centres. Similarly, by 2015, the 10
largest cities in the world will be in Asia, Latin America and Africa among which are Tokyo
(Japan) 28.7 million, Bombay (India) 27.4 million, Lagos (Nigeria) 24.4 million, Shanghai
(China) 23.4 million, Jakarta (Indonesia) 21.2 million, Sao Paulo (Brazil) 20.8 million, Karachi
(Pakistan) 20.6 million, Beijing (China) 19.4 million, Dhaka (Bangladesh) 19 million, and Mexico city (Mexico) 18.8 million people. Overall, 80 percent of the world’s urban residents will
live in the developing countries.
About 500 million urban dwellers are homeless or live in inadequate housing. This
problem is getting worse because housing cannot keep up with an exploding urban population,
which will double from 2.4 billion in 1995 to 5 billion in 2025. Housing shortage and poor
housing conditions were the results of massive urbanization, which are life-threatening.
Substandard housing, unsafe water and poor sanitation in densely populated cities are responsible
for 10 million deaths worldwide every year.
In 1952, only six towns in Nigeria had a population greater than 100,000, the number
increased to twelve by 1960 while in 1970, there were twenty-five of such centres (Ayeni, 1978).
In the last decade, more settlements have experienced rapid expansion following the recognition
of local government’s structure as the third level of government, each with administrative
headquarters. These new centres had transformed, in most cases, into nuclei of urban growth,
population concentration and development (Akinmuwagun, 2008). In all these centres, more lands
for housing and other facilities were required. The result is the lateral expansion of urban centres.
The Land Use Act of 1978 vested control of states land in the hands of the state governors.
This had made all the available urban spaces to be earmarked for one use type or the other by the
state government. Urban growth in Ondo state (Akure in particular) as well as other part of
Nigeria dates back to the pre-colonial period. However, extensive urban development is a feature
of the recent past. The old western Nigeria, which comprises of the present Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun
Oyo and Lagos states, had been recognized as the most urbanized part of Nigeria before and after
the colonial period (Mabogunje, 1968). The effect of uncontrolled land use pattern had started to
emerge in our cities. This is because of the early neglect of Town planners and also because of structures that predate planning which resulted into indiscriminate uses of land by city residents
of our cities out of ignorance.
Satellite Imagery, which is acquired through Remote Sensing (RS), and Geographic
Information System (GIS) are now providing new tools for advanced ecosystem management.
The collection of remotely sensed data facilitates the synoptic analyses of earth-system function,
patterning, and change at local, regional and global scales over time (Rajeshwari, 2006).
Therefore, this study employs the technique to examine changes in land use pattern of Akure over
a 16-year period through satellite remote sensing data.
The pattern of city growth and its spatial structure are determined by various historical,
economic, social and ecological forces that influence urban land-use. The improper use of urban
land poses serious problems in all countries simply because the supply of surplus land is limited
and subject to many competing claims. Therefore, proper planning of urban land-use is most
essential for an orderly and efficient growth of urban areas.
Urban growth and sprawl are almost synonymous and edge cities have become the
dominant urban form. Urbanization is simply defined as the shift from a rural to an urban society,
and involves an increase in the number of people in urban areas during a particular year. The
percentage increase in population is accompanied by more than proportional percentage increase
of an urbanized area. This is an indication that the two growth rates differ and urban area grows in
a more rapid pace. At first, people continued to work in cities but lived in sprawling suburbs
which is characterized by an unplanned and uneven pattern of growth. Thus, urban centres begin
to sprawl or expand physically into the surrounding agricultural suburbs.
High urban population place enormous stress on natural resources and imposes ‘ecological
footprints’ on the peri-urban areas (Rees, 1992; Rees and Wackernagel, 1994). For example,
urbanization leads to the outward expansion of cities and results in changes in land use whereby
urban residents buy up prime agricultural land for residential or commercial purposes. The
conversion of farm lands and watersheds for residential purposes have negative consequences on
food security, water supply as well as the health of the people, both in the cities and in the periurban
Although urbanization process often means accelerated economic performance for a
country, the accompanying rise in prices of urban land and its conversion from one form to
another affects the natural and cultural resources of the city. The influx of people into the cities
complicated the urban condition through structural growth. The population increase naturally
creates adjustment and readjustment of human and land use activities in space within urban
systems thus causing lateral and structural changes. Lateral changes occur when the city expands
in geographic boundaries leading to sprawl and peripheral developments while structural growth
relates to increase in land use density within urban centres. As demand for land uses increases due
to increase in urban population, lateral growth or urban expansion result. Also, as more and more
land are being converted, due to rise in population and land prices, low density areas gradually
become subjected to intensive use and thus become high density or medium density use.
The existence of crises in the Nigerian land market could be traced to the following factors
according to Bernstein (1994); rapid and uncontrolled migration, natural increase and
urbanization, existing socio-cultural cleavages, lack of secure tenure, inadequate information,
inappropriate and inefficient land policies and instruments, weak institutional structures and lack
of land management capacity, among other factors.
According to Olotuah (2005), rapid increase in the population of the urban centres has
resulted in an increase in the cost of living, because of higher demand on urban commodities that
are getting shorter in supply by the day. Thus there is a dearth and high cost of urban land, and
high cost of housing, which is often in short supply and out of the economic reach of the majority
of the urban households who incidentally fall into the low-income category. The slow process of
urban planning and zoning, in the face of rapid urbanization in most urban centres, has resulted in
poor layout of buildings with inadequate roads between them and inadequate drainage and
provision for refuse evacuation. Thus there is a high incidence of pollution (water, solid waste, air
and noise) and inadequacy of open spaces for other land uses. These constitute urban poverty
consequential of the rapid urbanization in the country.
The expansion of urban population in most developing countries has resulted into a rapid
rise in the demand for housing, land for industry and commerce, and public buildings and
infrastructure. Due to many competing claims for urban land and the consequent rise in land
prices, supplying land which can be developed at the pace and scale required is a challenge for
authorities in most of the cities in the developing countries Nigeria inclusive.
Settlements represent the most profound human alteration of the natural environment
through a spectrum of urban land use activities which include, but are not restricted to,
transportation, commercial, industrial, residential, institutional, and recreational land uses
(Ifatimehin and Ufuah, 2006). The urban expansion that ensues as a result of increase in the
demand for these land uses explains the underlying and fundamental cause of urban expansion
which is population increase. Urban built-up area increased significantly, whereas bare,
undeveloped land decreased. This increasing demand and expansion leads to sprawling which promotes the spread of urban land use into the rural-urban fringe and draws a larger number of
people into the rural-urban interface. Therefore, agricultural lands are bought up for residential
and commercial purposes which has negative effects on food security, water supply as well as the
health of the people of the study area.
The forest belt used to provide both a limit to urban expansion and to commercial and
recreational resource for the people of the city. This vegetation and areas close to small rivers or
streams within and immediately surrounding the city are now giving way for residential and other
land uses. Nevertheless, the importance of vegetation in the environment is underscored by the
role it plays as a major carbon sink. Therefore, there is a need for up-to-date and accurate land
use/land cover information that can be utilized in the production of sustainable land use policies.
A variety of factors affect the supply and demand of land and its uses in a city. The supply
of urban land is affected by such factors as location of city, laws related to land-use, structure of
land markets and urban management. Nevertheless, increasing population size of cities and
physical expansion of the built-up area beyond the city limits as well as rising demand for more
land for various purposes induce changes in urban land-use. This undocumented change has
driven unprecedented changes in ecosystems and environmental processes at local and regional
scales. Monitoring and mediating the negative consequences of land use changes while sustaining
the production of essential resources has therefore become a major priority of researchers and
policymakers around the world.
Increasing population size of Akure and physical expansion of its built-up area, or urban
extension, beyond the city limits as well as rising demand for more land for various purposes
induce changes in urban land-use. This increasing population is indicated by the population of
Akure which increased from 239,124 in 1991 (1991 National Population Census) to 420, 594
(NPC, 2011), almost doubled in a short span of 20 years. Akure grew from 38, 852 in 1952 to 106,000 in 1963. Its population was estimated to be 112,850 in 1980 (DHV, 1985); 144,544 in
1987, 148,880 in 1988, 153,347 in 1989 and 157,947 in 1990 (Ondo State of Nigeria, 1990). The
1991 national population census however, put the population of Akure at 239,124 and its
estimated population in 1996 was 269,207 (NPC, 1996). At present the city is estimated to have
over 420,594 people and it is projected that by 2015, Akure will be inhabited by about 1.8 million
people. This land use change, which is attributed to urban growth alters the pattern of land use
and land values within an urban area.
Lateral physical expansion and outlying physical developments of Akure over a large area
that used to be rural and undeveloped away from the city centre forms a basis for which this study
is justified. This is as a result of high cost of urban land and housing at the city centre beyond the
reach of the majority of urban household and cheaper rates in the urban fringe. This urban
extension has its impact on the city’s road traffic congestion and high cost of agricultural
commodities. This, too, can be attributed to population growth.
This research work aims at examining the socio-economic implications of urban growth and its
trends on land use pattern of Akure between 1986 and 2002 using LandSat remote sensing
The objectives of the study are to:
i. Study the pattern of land uses in the year 1986
ii. Examine the land use/land cover change that have occurred and the rate of these changes
between 1986 and 2002.
iii. Evaluate the relationship between population growths with these changes.
iv. Determine the socio-economic implications of this land use change on Akure.
One major limitation to this study is problem of acquisition and analysis of
geographically-referenced data. Satellite imageries of Akure of different years have to be
procured for this project to carry trend analysis and determine rate of growth. These imageries are
costly and analyzing them requires a level of expertise in geographic information system (GIS)
and is expensive.
The dynamic nature of demographic characteristics of a town means that reliable and
current data has to be obtained. Therefore, up-to-date and reliable data on population distribution
and density of Akure over a period of years has to be acquired. These data are also not readily
The study area is Akure, the administrative capital of Ondo State. The city is located within Ondo
State in the South Western part of Nigeria. It lies approximately on latitude 70 151 North of the
Equator and longitude 50 151 East of the Greenwich Meridian. Akure is a medium- sized urban
centre and became the provincial headquarter of Ondo province in 1939. It also became the
capital city of Ondo State and a Local Government headquarters in 1976. The area towards Ado-
Ekiti and Idanre are hilly and studded with large granite formation, rising to 410 metres and 496
metres above sea level respectively. These granitic formations are said to be of volcanic origin, underlained by basement complex rocks, which are mostly impermeable gneisses and granites. The
city’s morphology has changed over time to assume its present status with its attendant land use
problems, as experienced in similar medium sized urban centres in Nigeria. Akure is located
approximately 700 kilometers South West of Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria and about 350
kilometers to Lagos the former capital of Nigeria. It is located within the tropical rain forest
region of Nigeria where rainfall is high throughout the year.

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