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Reduction of tree cover in West African woodlands and promotion in semi-arid farmlands

Brandt, Martin; Rasmussen, Kjeld; Hiernaux, Pierre; Herrmann, Stefanie; Tucker, Compton J.; Tong, Xiaoye; Tian, Feng LU ; Mertz, Ole; Kergoat, Laurent and Mbow, Cheikh, et al. (2018) In Nature Geoscience 11(5). p.328-333
Abstract

Woody vegetation in farmland acts as a carbon sink and provides ecosystem services for local people, but no macroscale assessments of the impact of management and climate on woody cover exist for drylands. Here we make use of very high spatial resolution satellite imagery to derive wall-to-wall woody cover patterns in tropical West African drylands. Our study reveals that mean woody cover in farmlands along all semi-arid and sub-humid rainfall zones is 16%, on average only 6% lower than in savannahs. In semi-arid Sahel, farmland management promotes woody cover around villages (11%), while neighbouring savannahs had on average less woody cover. However, farmlands in sub-humid zones have a greatly reduced woody cover (21%) as compared... (More)

Woody vegetation in farmland acts as a carbon sink and provides ecosystem services for local people, but no macroscale assessments of the impact of management and climate on woody cover exist for drylands. Here we make use of very high spatial resolution satellite imagery to derive wall-to-wall woody cover patterns in tropical West African drylands. Our study reveals that mean woody cover in farmlands along all semi-arid and sub-humid rainfall zones is 16%, on average only 6% lower than in savannahs. In semi-arid Sahel, farmland management promotes woody cover around villages (11%), while neighbouring savannahs had on average less woody cover. However, farmlands in sub-humid zones have a greatly reduced woody cover (21%) as compared with savannahs (33%). In the region as a whole, rainfall, terrain and soil are the most important (80%) determinants of woody cover, while management factors play a smaller (20%) role. We conclude that agricultural expansion causes a considerable reduction of trees in woodlands, but observations in Sahel indicate that villagers safeguard trees on nearby farmlands which contradicts simplistic ideas of a high negative correlation between population density and woody cover.

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published
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Nature Geoscience
volume
11
issue
5
pages
6 pages
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85045467928
ISSN
1752-0894
DOI
10.1038/s41561-018-0092-x
language
English
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no
id
4a1511f3-998f-47a6-83ac-78f91b9bd9f2
date added to LUP
2018-06-08 14:35:45
date last changed
2018-06-24 05:23:04
@article{4a1511f3-998f-47a6-83ac-78f91b9bd9f2,
  abstract     = {<p>Woody vegetation in farmland acts as a carbon sink and provides ecosystem services for local people, but no macroscale assessments of the impact of management and climate on woody cover exist for drylands. Here we make use of very high spatial resolution satellite imagery to derive wall-to-wall woody cover patterns in tropical West African drylands. Our study reveals that mean woody cover in farmlands along all semi-arid and sub-humid rainfall zones is 16%, on average only 6% lower than in savannahs. In semi-arid Sahel, farmland management promotes woody cover around villages (11%), while neighbouring savannahs had on average less woody cover. However, farmlands in sub-humid zones have a greatly reduced woody cover (21%) as compared with savannahs (33%). In the region as a whole, rainfall, terrain and soil are the most important (80%) determinants of woody cover, while management factors play a smaller (20%) role. We conclude that agricultural expansion causes a considerable reduction of trees in woodlands, but observations in Sahel indicate that villagers safeguard trees on nearby farmlands which contradicts simplistic ideas of a high negative correlation between population density and woody cover.</p>},
  author       = {Brandt, Martin and Rasmussen, Kjeld and Hiernaux, Pierre and Herrmann, Stefanie and Tucker, Compton J. and Tong, Xiaoye and Tian, Feng and Mertz, Ole and Kergoat, Laurent and Mbow, Cheikh and David, John L. and Melocik, Katherine A. and Dendoncker, Morgane and Vincke, Caroline and Fensholt, Rasmus},
  issn         = {1752-0894},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {328--333},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Geoscience},
  title        = {Reduction of tree cover in West African woodlands and promotion in semi-arid farmlands},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0092-x},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2018},
}