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Development of a remote sensing derived tool to assess the impact of conservation policy measures and drought on East African ecosystems (ENDELEO)

Research project SR/00/114 (Research action SR)

Persons :

  • Prof. dr.  DE WULF Robert - Universiteit Gent (RUG)
    Coordinator of the project
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/12/2006-30/6/2009
  • Dr.  BYDEKERKE Lieven - Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek (VITO)
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/12/2006-30/6/2009
  • Dr.  LAMBRECHTS Christian - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
    Not-financed foreign partner
    Duration: 1/12/2006-30/6/2009

Description :

Context and objectives

In view of the importance of the services provided by natural ecosystems to key sectors, such as energy, tourism, and agriculture, there is an increasing interest from a large number of stakeholders to actively participate in natural ecosystems management and conservation. However, the involvement of the civil society in the conservation and management of those natural assets is still impeded by a lack of access to regularly updated information, such as on the location and extent of the threats to these ecosystems or on the impacts of past interventions. This is also one of the main obstacles for the management authorities to respond to emerging threats. In case of less productive ecosystems that sustain lower population densities, such as sub-humid, semi-arid and arid lands, the situation is further compounded by a lack of understanding or assessment of the impact of exogenous changes, including management policies.

The projects objectives are:

- Assess the impact of a change in conservation policy and practices in drought vulnerable areas using space borne remote sensing imagery;
- Define, develop, and put in place remote sensing based information tools to enhance the capacity of managers and the civil society in monitoring the impacts of conservation policy and practices and to help them participate actively in environment conservation and management.


Since the project is oriented towards a user-driven approach, interaction with the end users at different stages is crucial. Therefore, meetings and workshops with the stakeholder community will be organized to assess their geographic information needs and to determine the amount and format of spatial information to be derived from EO-based data processing approaches.

The proposed methods used for change detection mainly rely on those that are described in scientific literature or that have proven efficiency through operational products. Using automated image processing techniques on multi-temporal remote sensing data from low to high resolution (SPOT-VEGETATION/ MODIS and Landsat/ ASTER respectively), trends of rangeland and forest ecosystem degradation can be detected and impacts of policy changes can be assessed. Validation of the results will be performed through expert consultation and fieldwork.
Based on the obtained results and feedback from the stakeholder community, a web-based operational information system will be developed, adapted to the user’s need.

Results expected

In accordance with the 2 project objectives, we expect the following outcome from the project:

Obj. 1:
• ‘Best practice’ methodology for mapping of semi-arid ecosystems, from tree savanna to closed forests.
• Deeper insight in the impact of conservation measures.
• Guidelines / recommendations for improved conservation policies and practices at national and regional levels.
• Input to UNEP’s planned project on Environmental Recovery in the Horn of Africa.
• Input to UNEP’s global and regional assessment processes, such as GEO, AEO.
• Contribution to the targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

Obj. 2:
• Clear vision on the profile of potential users (local and national authorities, protected areas and natural resource managers and stakeholders, concerned private sectors, local communities, NGOs) and understanding of their needs (such as format, topic, and classes) regarding remote sensing and GIS data.
• Growing awareness of the potential uses of affordable earth observation data.
• Empowerment of all stakeholders to participate participation of the user community, aiming at a larger public support for the conservation of vulnerable ecosystems.
• Opportunities for networking during the workshops, where stakeholder groups will meet in an informal setting.

Documentation :

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