Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - SUN (Tools for management and sustainable use of natural vegetation in West Africa)

SUN aimed to develop new, practical management tools and concrete management actions for improved sustainable use of natural vegetation by combining scientific vegetation data, remote sensing and socio-economic information with local people's knowledge and needs.

Maps of vegetation patterns and land use units have been prepared for the project core areas. Extensive vegetation inventories from land use areas and protected areas have been conducted and data are stored in a vegetation database and used for modelling of phytodiversity patterns in relation to human impact. Population dynamics of several highly valued species show declining tendencies in land use areas compared to protected areas. An improved understanding of vegetation dynamics and their causal factors will be used to identify and protect vulnerable areas and habitats.

Five indices that measure changes in phenology have been developed and evaluated to verify that these indices measure:
1) changes in the peakedness of the growing season;
2) changes in the average annual greenness;
3) shifts in the time of the peak of the season;
4) changes in the length of the season; and
5) changes in the shape of the phenological profile.
These indices have been used to derive maps depicting the changes in phenology that have taken place over the period of the time series used (1982 - 2008) and to analyse the correlations between these changes and changes in the key climate parameters of precipitation and temperature. Changes in vegetation phenology are significantly correlated with changes in rainfall over much of Africa and, occasionally, with changes in temperature.

Local preferences and needs in relation to vegetation use have been identified and analysed within all the core areas. Economic instruments, such as subsidies, taxation, quotas or property right institutions, have been identified and analysed according to political feasibility as tools for improved management. Cultural and socio-economic impediments to sustainable use of the vegetation are also identified and ways to redress them are explored.

An online vegetation database (West African Vegetation, please see online) has been developed, which allows entry of all major plot types and maximises user acceptance by a flexible access rights approach. The online database concept has the advantage of common standards, facilitated exchange, good visibility of available data and high data security. The synchronization feature makes it possible to use a local offline version of our database directly in the field and under slow internet conditions. The database has a digitisation record of 360 028 single observations and 10 743 plots.

Indicators of sustainable use were analysed and identified at different scales (landscape, habitat, species). For identification of vulnerable habitats and species, the climate change severity index was derived, and the population pressure on the core areas was assessed. Vegetation data were prepared for comparison of land use and protected areas, and data on highly valued species in relation to the nearest settlements were used to identify the use impact on the species. A list of indicator species is in preparation.

Biophysic data and socioeconomic data have been gathered and compiled for the SUN map server that stores spatial information about the four SUN core areas, the participating countries in SUN and Westafrica in general. All of the data and their respective metadata can be downloaded in vector or raster format. The SUN map server can be accessed under: login:sun, password: sun:maps. The map server is a tool that aims to facilitate spatial information about the region and the SUN areas that can be used for further processing in Geographic information systems (GIS). Data structure of the SUN map server is as follows:
- core areas (W National Park, Tamou Reserve, Boulon-Koflandé Forest, Patako Forest);
- participating countries (Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Senegal);
- region (Westafrica).
The information about the core areas consists in data about boundaries, infrastructure, villages, fire frequency (from JRC, please see online), soils and geology. For W National Park a NDVI image and two satellite image mosaics of the area are online.

The SUN countries folders contain data about cities and villages, administrative borders, infrastructure, rivers, vegetation types, land use, topography, geology and soils. For Arli National Park (folder: Burkina Faso) and Pendjari National Park (folder: Benin) Landsat classifications are available. The data for West Africa is composed by spatial information about infrastructure, political administrative boundaries, elevation, vegetation (major vegetation types according to White 1983, WWF terrestrial ecoregions, protected area system, ESA Globcover, JRC Global Landcover), population (1960 - 2000) and hydrology. Besides the common zoom and (length and area) measurement functions the SUN map server has an identify function to display information of a selected feature on the screen. The download function is implemented as an icon for each data layer. The Sun map server will be updated regularly and data collected and compiled during the UNDESERT project will be integrated to make the map server more complete and thereby more useful for the users.

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