2 Sustainable Development Indicators
Sustainable development indicators (SDI) are various statistical values that collectively measure the capacity to meet present and future needs. The goal of the sustainability indicators is to show the state of human, environmental and economic conditions, the trend of changes in these conditions, and identifying issues that need to be addressed within each of these three pillars of sustainability. Development is often achieved through trade-offs between these pillars. Therefore, to promote sustainability, it has become increasingly important to be able to measure how vulnerable each aspect is to damage and to identify ways of building resilience (Bell and Morse 2003). The indicators will provide information crucial to decisions of national policy and to the general public.
2.1 Land Use/Cover Change and Sustainable Development
Changes in the nature of land use activities often results in land cover changes. Many regions around the world undergo rapid changes in land cover because of human activities and natural phenomena, but land cover today is altered principally by direct human use (Jensen 1996; Meyer 1995). Resulting land cover changes affect biodiversity, water and radiation budgets, trace gas emissions and other processes that, cumulatively, affect global climate and biosphere (USEPA 1999). An example of this is the increase of coastal human population growth accompanied by agricultural, industrial and urban development that has led to an unparalleled acceleration of contamination and nutrient input into coastal estuaries and their watersheds, thus exacerbating environmental stress and degradation of the ecosystems (Yang and Liu 2005). Other specific uses of this nature include agriculture and livestock raising, forest harvesting and management, and urban and suburban construction and development. This pressure on the land has enormous impacts in terms of land degradation, ecosystem resilience, and soil and water conservation.
Land cover change is one of the most important variables of environmental change and represents the largest threat to ecological systems (Foody 2003). It has become a central component in current strategies for managing natural resources and monitoring environmental changes (Brandon and Bottomley 1998). Time series analysis of land use/cover (LU/C) change and the identification of the driving forces responsible for these changes are needed for the sustainable management of natural resources and also for projecting future LU/C trajectories (Giri et al. 2003).
2.2 Proposed Sustainability Indicators
This study is not concerned with institutional and pure socio-economic indicators (such as land tenure, ownership rights, access to land). Instead, this research focuses on the biophysical and some socio-economic/demographic indicators at the national or local levels. This study has opted to adopt indicators developed to review the country’s environmental vulnerability to natural risk and to human. The index is based on the premise that the