Technical complexities and the high cost of satellite images have hindered the adoption of remote sensing technology and tools for nature conservation works in Ethiopia as in many developing countries. The terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in Abijjata Shala Lakes National Park (ASLNP) and the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) around the park are considered to be one of the most important home ranges for birds. However, little is known about the effect of land use/land cover (LULC) dynamics, due to lack of technical know how and logistical problems. However, it has been shown in this study that sophisticated image management works are not always relevant. Instead a simple method of utilizing the thermal band has been demonstrated. A new approach of long-term dynamics analysis method has also been suggested. A successful classification of images was achieved after such simple enhancement tests. It has been discovered that, there were more active LULC change processes in the area in the first study period (1973 to 1986) than during the second study period (1986-2000). In the first period nearly half of the landscape underwent land cover change processes with more than 26% of the entire landscape experiencing forest or land degradation. In the second period the extent of the change process was limited to only 1/3 of the total area with a smaller amount of degradation processes than before. During the entire study period, agriculture was responsible for the loss of more than 4/5 of the total terrestrial productive ecosystem. More than 37.6% of the total park area has been experiencing this loss for the past 3 decades. Only 1/5 of this area has a chance to revive, the remaining has undergone a permanent degradation. Lake Abijjata lost half of its size during the past 30 years. In the Zeway-Awassa basin 750 km², 2428km² and 3575km² of terrestrial lands and water bodies are within a distance of 10km, 20km and 30km from IBAs respectively. There are ecologically important areas where two or more IBAs overlap. In areas where more than two to five IBAs overlap, up to 85km² of areas have been recently degraded. High livestock density is one of the reasons for degradation. Using a monthly MODIS data from 2000-2005 and a series of interpolation techniques, the productivity of the area as well as the standing biomass were estimated. Moreover, a new method of spatially accurate livestock density assessment was developed in this study. Only 0.3% of the park area is found to be suitable for productive livestock development but nearly all inhabitants think the area is suitable. Feed availability in ASLNP is scarce even during rainy seasons. Especially the open woodlands are subject to overgrazing. Such shortage forces the inhabitants to cut trees for charcoal making to buy animal feed and non-food consumables. While more than 95% of the inhabitants in the park expanded their agriculture lands, only 13.3% of the farmers managed to produce cereals for market. The application of low cost remote sensing and GIS methods provided ample information that enables to conclude that low productivity and household food insecurity are the main driving forces behind land cover changes that are negatively affecting the natural and semi-natural ecosystems in the central and southern Rift Valley of Ethiopia. The restoration of natural ecosystems or conservation of biodiversity can be achieved only if those driving forces are tackled sustainably.