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Research article2008Peer reviewedOpen access

Land use analysis from spatial and field data capture in southern Burkina Faso, West Africa

Pare, Souleymane; Soderberg, Ulf; Sandewall, Mats; Ouadba, Jean Marie


Informed decision on the management of natural resources requires an understanding of the complex dynamics of socio-economic and biophysical factors. This study aimed at exploring the land use change in southern Burkina Faso at regional and local levels and the underlying causes of change. The local level study was conducted in two villages, Boala and Yale, in Sissili Province. Aerial photos from 1984 and 1997 and satellite images from 1986 and 2002 were employed to describe the land use dynamics. The spatial approach was combined with field data collected in 2003 and 2005 for ground-truth checking and gathering other relevant data. Semi-structured questionnaire was used for gathering data on socioeconomic factors driving land use changes at local level. At regional scale, the annual rate of change in forest land, grazing land, gallery forest and cropland was -0.4, -0.9, -1.6 and 3.8%, respectively. The size of croplands increased by 14% in some districts with an equivalent annual rate of conversion to cropland estimated at 0.6% during 1986-2002. At the local level, the size of croplands increased from 7 to 14% in Boala and from 21 to 30% in Yale at the expense of shrinking of forest cover from 78 to 40% in the former and from 41 to 18% in the latter village. Rural migration (3.3% at regional level, and as high as 97% in Yale and 9% in Boala) coupled with extensive subsistence farming, large-scale commercial farming, intensive fuelwood extraction and other disturbances were the main factors driving land use change. In conclusion, the results show that in a decade and half the southern region of Burkina Faso has moved from a sparsely populated area with subsistence farming to a more complex zone of production characterized by high competition between different land use types. Integrated management of the natural resources in the region should, therefore, be given more attention. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


change detection; land use dynamics; migration; spatial approach

Published in

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
2008, Volume: 127, number: 3-4, pages: 277-285