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The production of contested landscapes: Changes to ecosystem services in the Sahel

Snorek, Julie and Moser, Linda and Renaud, Fabrice (2014) The production of contested landscapes: Changes to ecosystem services in the Sahel. 20th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) - Challenges of Urban and Rural Transformation, 9.-13. Juni 2014, Hannover, Deutschland.

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Across the globe, ecosystems are being degraded at an unsustainable rate due to both human and climatic factors. In the Sahel of West Africa, land degradation is caused primarily by agriculture and overgrazing. Climate change is a proximate factor in land degradation, due to the adaptation or coping mechanisms of pastoralists and agriculturalists. Access to ecosystem services such as soil, surface water, and forests can shift between user groups (such as pastoralists and agriculturalists) based on how institutions manage land and for what purpose. Land use change, promoted by the greater frequency of drought events in the dryland systems of the Sahel, such as conversion of pasture to cultivated land has the tendency to further degrade soil, increase runoff, and create conflict with users who rely on pastoral resources. While regenerative methods such as allowing nitrogen-fixing trees to grow in degraded soils have promoted what some have called a “greening” of the Sahel, such change is not widespread and does not necessarily resolve land use conflicts. The study of changing land use/land cover using satellite data linked to qualitative data related to changing ecosystem services, entitlements, and conflict in the same localities provides a new view of justice and ecosystem service distribution. Using remote sensing methods for change detection and time series analysis, as well as qualitative analysis of environmental histories, this article illustrates the inequities of current changes to ecosystem services in multiple rainfall zones in Niger, evaluated for both pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods. The case study focuses on Tahoua, Niger using a mixed method approach. Remote sensing high resolution images such as Quickbird-2, WorldView-2 and RapidEye allows for the detection of adaptation and changes to specific ecosystem services (including enclosures such as fences in pastoral areas or gardening activities). The temporal development in these regions was then analyzed for a period of 14 (1999 2000 – 2013) years using time series from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Satellite images demonstrate the detection of changes to specific ecosystem services, like the increase of gardening, the presence/absence of fences, or the dynamics of seasonal lakes. In the same spatial region, we chose three villages in the different rainfall zones and performed more than 150 qualitative and expert interviews to assess the changes to ecosystem services for users within both rain-fed agricultural and pastoral systems of Niger. Results over a 15-year timescale show that cultivation is spreading even in the highly contested, government-designated ‘pastoral zone.’ Moreover, irrigated agriculture has grown significantly around ephemeral lakes in the same timescale. Most users perceive that the benefits supplied by ecosystems in the Sahel are waning as a result of multiple forces. For instance, the adaptations of diverse user groups to climate change hazards are often divergent and competitive, promoting further degradation of ecosystem services, especially services supporting pastoral livelihoods. Such degradation is most often perceived by users to be promoted by cultivation. These ‘divergent’ adaptations are supported by inequitable or corrupt institutional practices, which are shifting the entitlements to water-based shared ecosystem services and enabling dominant groups to enclose and cultivate such areas. This in turn reduces the access and viability of such services for more marginal groups. Understanding and evaluating changes to ecosystem services using this combined method of remote sensing and qualitative research can support and promote sustainable ecosystem management, especially in the context of climate change.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/99999/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:The production of contested landscapes: Changes to ecosystem services in the Sahel
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Date:June 2014
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:ecosystem services, Sahel, adaptation, pastoralist, remote sensing, conflict
Event Title:20th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) - Challenges of Urban and Rural Transformation
Event Location:Hannover, Deutschland
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:9.-13. Juni 2014
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Zivile Kriseninformation und Georisiken (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:German Remote Sensing Data Center > Geo Risks and Civil Security
Deposited By: Moser, Linda
Deposited On:03 Dec 2015 11:32
Last Modified:10 May 2016 23:36

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