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Land Cover Applications and Global Change


Senegal Biodiversity Pilot Study in Support of GITAN and GEO BON


The overall objective is to develop and provide a framework for future national assessments of landscape changes that impact biodiversity conservation in Senegal. With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development/Natural Resources Management Office, the effort began with a pilot study project in support of the Global Integrated Analysis Network (GITAN). GITAN was conceived to establish a network of governments and non-governmental organizations that are assembling comprehensive geographic information on landscape change and biodiversity around the world. While GITAN does not currently exist as a program, many of its ideas and approaches are now embodied in the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Network (GEO BON). GEO BON directly supports one of the societal benefits of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) understanding, monitoring, and conserving biodiversity. This study also directly supports the objectives of USAID/Senegal to work in targeted areas of high biodiversity to promote sustained use, conservation and management of natural resources by local populations.

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Figure 1. An aerial view of biodiverse wetlands and woodlands along the Gambia River as it winds through Senegal's Niokolo Koba National Park.

We used remotely sensed data, data from our field surveys spanning over 20 years, and baseline geographic data from previous and recent mapping and monitoring efforts in Senegal. We produced a unique set of core geographic datasets that support biodiversity assessments and monitoring. These include land cover and land cover trends, vegetation cover, vegetation species richness, soils, digital elevation data, and vegetation indicator species distribution maps. We worked closely with the Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) in Dakar, both in the field, and in the construction and analysis of many of these geographic datasets. Next, we profile two ecological regions which we targeted owing to their high biodiversity - one which has undergone dramatic change in the past 50 years, and one that is Senegal's last remaining wilderness, but facing new pressures from economic development. Finally, we present a background report on drought impact on the vegetation and biodiversity of Senegal.

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Figure 2. Senegal is the westernmost country in West Africa. Source: Environmental Systems Research Institute,Inc. (ESRI)

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Figure 3. An 8-year comparison of a wooded savanna in south central Senegal near Koussanar, viewed from the same photo-point. The tree cover has been thinned by selective logging for firewood, adversely impacting habitat and the local biodiversity. Top: November 1995; bottom: March 2003.

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Page Last Modified: March 26, 2013