Mapping land use land cover transitions at different spatiotemporal scales in West Africa

Beatrice Asenso Barnieh, Li Jia, Massimo Menenti, Jie Zhou, Yelong Zeng

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Post‐classification change detection was applied to examine the nature of Land Use Land Cover (LULC) transitions in West Africa in three time intervals (1975–2000, 2000–2013, and 1975– 2013). Detailed analyses at hotspots coupled with comparison of LULC transitions in the humid and arid regions were undertaken. Climate and anthropic drivers of environmental change were disentangled by the LULC transitions analyses. The results indicated that human‐managed LULC types have replaced the natural LULC types. The total vegetation cover declined by −1.6%. Massive net gains in croplands (107.8%) and settlements (140%) at the expense of natural vegetation were detected in the entire period (1975–2013). Settlements expanded in parallel with cropland, which suggests the effort to increase food production to support the increasing population. Expansion of artificial water bodies were detected in the humid regions during the period of 1975–2000. Nonetheless, shrinking of water bodies due to encroachment by wetlands and other vegetation was observed in the arid regions, coupled with net loss in the whole of West Africa. The results indicate deforestation and degradation of natural vegetation and water resources in West Africa. Underlying anthropic drivers and a combination of anthropic and climate drivers were detected. LULC transitions in West Africa are location specific and have both positive and negative implications on the environment. The transitions indicate how processes at the local level, driven by human activities, lead to changes at the continental level and may contribute to global environmental change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8565
Pages (from-to)1-50
Number of pages50
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Anthropic
  • Arid region
  • Climate
  • Humid region
  • LULC transitions
  • West Africa


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