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USAID Extended Forest Team's (April) Meeting

by Jean Brennan last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:47 AM
Speakers: Gray Tappan, USGS International Programs, Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Presentation on "Remote Sensing to Unveil Natural Resource Management Impacts in Burkina and Niger."
When Apr 05, 2006
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where G. St. NW, 4th Floor Nile Conference Room, Washinton, DC
Contact Name
Contact Phone 202-712-1381
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Gray Tappan will present some of the USGS work on using remotely sensed imagery to track the adoption and spread of a variety of natural resource management practices in the Sahelian regions of Burkina and Niger. Many of these practices are having positive impacts on the local environment, and are leading to land rehabilitation, improved yields, and more trees. These studies have helped discover real success stories in an environment where drought and desertification have taken their toll.

Background (from The Sahel region of West Africa is endowed with a highly diverse, yet fragile environment. It is a transition zone between the hyper-arid Sahara to the north and the more humid savannas and woodlands to the south. For many thousands of years, the Sahel has supported a scattered population of humans, living within the dynamic ecosystems that make up the Sahel. Humans learned to cope with the annual cycle of wet and dry, and survived many longer term cycles of wet periods and droughts. During the 20th century, the human factor in the environmental equation changed dramatically as population growth exploded. Humans have become a major driver of change in an already dynamic environment. Even today, the peoples of the Sahel are predominantly involved in agriculture relying heavily on limited soil, water and vegetation resources. The pressures they are placing on these resources are unprecedented in history. Forest and woodland areas are declining by an estimated 1% per year, while population grows at 2.8% per year (Sahel Regional Program/USAID, 1997). There is a growing lag between food production and food needs, and evidence of increasing environmental degradation. Yet, the maintenance of healthy social and economic systems depends on sustaining a healthy environment. It is imperative that the health and dynamics of the natural systems be monitored and wisely managed in order to find a balance between agricultural production and maintaining the natural ecosystems. A systematic understanding of changes in land use and land cover is critical to understanding ecosystem functioning and services, and human welfare.

Monitoring Land Use and Land Cover Changes in the Sahel
The EROS Data Center working in close collaboration with the AGRHYMET Regional Center in Niamey, Niger, is developing a framework for monitoring, mapping and quantifying changes in natural resources through land use and land cover changes in West Africa. The objective is to characterize land use and land cover trends using historical and current satellite imagery and supporting ground information from three points in time (1965, 1985, and 2000), and to better understand the socioeconomic and biophysical factors driving the trends. Funding for this program comes primarily from the U.S. Agency for International Development / West Africa Regional Program. The program is an integral parts of USAID's strategies in sustainable food security and environmental/natural resources management in the region. The activity also fits within the objectives of CILSS (Comité Inter-Etat de Lutte Contre la Sécheresse au Sahel) to assure improved food security and rational management of natural resources within a framework of regional integration and sustainable development.

For more information on the USGS International Programs go to

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