Vegetation dynamics of the West African Sahel has attracted great scientific interest over the last 40 years because of the dramatic inter-decadal variability observed in the resource base of the region directly impacting on the livelihoods of the West African population. From farmers to pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and forest-users, all depend on the availability of vegetation resources and are affected by fluctuations in the available vegetation resource. Vegetation dynamics are controlled by both natural and human factors, including climate change and variability, increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, grazing pressure, bush fires and agricultural expansion or contraction. The use of satellite data in combination with field data played a major role in the monitoring of vegetation dynamics and land use in the Sahel, since the mega drought of the 1970s and the 1980s. This paper briefly reviews the advance of satellite-based monitoring of vegetation dynamics over these 40 years. We discuss the promises of current and likely future data sources and analysis tools, as well as the need to strengthen in situ data collection to support and validate satellite-based vegetation and land use monitoring and modelling.
Geografisk Tidsskrift/danish Journal of Geography, 2014, Vol 114, Issue 1, p. 84-91
environmental change; land use; earth observation; vegetation productivity; West African Sahel