Academic journal article The Indonesian Journal of Geography

Monitoring Vegetation Change in the Dryland Ecosystem of Sokoto, Northwestern Nigeria Using Geoinformatics

Academic journal article The Indonesian Journal of Geography

Monitoring Vegetation Change in the Dryland Ecosystem of Sokoto, Northwestern Nigeria Using Geoinformatics

Article excerpt

The role of vegetation cover in stabilising global ecosystem cannot be overemphasized. This is because, vegetation provides the base and support to all life forms through its role of primary production and plays a vital role in the global climate system. Specifically, vegetation provides food, shelter and raw materials to man, pasture to livestock, protects soil from erosion and provides fuel woods amongst other things to the inhabitants of the semi-arid environment of Sokoto (Adegboyega et al, 2016; Zhigila et al, 2015). Periodic assessment of vegetation condition is therefore necessary for understanding the effects of different drivers of change on spatio-temporal distribution of vegetation. This is particularly important in the dryland environment of Sokoto due to the fragile nature of the ecosystem in the region and the peoples' over dependence on it for their livelihoods. However, over the last decades, vegetation of the area has been experiencing major disturbances mainly due to human activities coupled with other natural processes with serious consequences on the natural vegetation, biodiversity, food security as well as socio-economic development of the area (Marian et al' 2014).

Urban and agricultural expansions caused by the rapid population growth in the area, are among the major drivers of vegetation change in the area (Pooter et al, 2004). Other sources of vegetation disturbances in the area includes, overgrazing, fuel wood extraction, bush burning and desert encroachment all of which poses serious ecological, social and economic consequences (Mohammed, 2015; Olagunju 2015). Climate change and associated challenges further aggravates these challenges (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2013; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), 2005). This underscores the need for continuous monitoring and assessment of the spatio-temporal changes in the vegetation of the area, as well as understanding the influence of different 1.Introduction

drivers of ecosystem change in altering the vegetation distribution of the area. This type of information is necessary to furnish the policy makers with evidencebased information necessary for ensuring informed decision that could lead to proper resource utilisation and sustainable development of the area. This to a very large extent will depend on our ability to monitor and assess the spatio-temporal state of vegetation and impacts of global environmental changes on different components of the ecosystem. This may prove difficult with the conventional ground survey techniques as they cannot keep face with the rate of changes and particularly over large areas. Also, the fact that, vegetation disturbances and changes do not occur in a linear and easily recognizable pattern compounds the problem. Combinations of GIS and remote sensing techniques will no doubt yield a positive result in this regard. This particularly in view of the fact that, during the last few decades, remote sensing satellites provided global monitoring necessary for improving our understanding of the ecosystem dynamics. Multitemporal satellite images such as Landsat data, Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) of the same area can be used to study the susceptibility of land and changes resulting from both natural and anthropogenic drivers. (United Nations Geological Survey (USGS), 1997; Kumar et al., 2010). In addition, GIS has the ability to combine and integrate data from varied sources such as from cartographic sources (maps), earth bound surveys, remote sensing (aerial and satellite imageries) and create overlapping layers that can be accessed, transformed and manipulated interactively in one spatial structure (Kaminska et al, 2004). It is against this background that, this research utilises multi-temporal MODIS-NDVI satellite data to monitor and assess vegetation changes in the dryland ecosystem of Sokoto, North-western Nigeria. …

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