Remote sensing analysis of land cover/use conditions of community-based wildlife conservation areas in Tanzania
Abstract: Community based approaches to conservation in the developing world have generally been criticized for not meeting their goals of sustainable conservation and local development. Inadequate local participation and inequitable benefits sharing among others are some of the major concerns. In Tanzania wildlife management areas (WMAs) are one of the forms of community-based wildlife conservation initiatives established since 2003 around country’s extensive network of protected areas bordering villages. Success stories and challenges about WMAs have already been written about but not land cover/use conditions of such areas under the current debate about their role to local communities. It is therefore expected that land cover/use conditions of the WMAs would be deteriorating. By using Remote Sensing data and Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis tool this study intends to fill in that gap by analyzing normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), land cover/use characteristics and change and human-wildlife conflicts datasets over the last twenty-eight years to understand the trend, current conditions and predict its future for informing decision makers and other involved stakeholders. NDVI trend analysis and land cover/use change detection have been carried to assess land cover/use conditions of an area. Human-wildlife conflicts data have also been summarized as total number of conflict incidents to gain some insights about the extent of wildlife species presence as conditioned by conservation or degradation activities. Conflicts data are also useful to understand the trend. The results show that ecosystem of the WMA is degrading as predicted by the criticisms leveled against the establishment processes and management of WMAs in the country. Tree greenness trend is slightly positive but human land use activities (farming and grazing) within the study area have been increasing after its establishment while other land cover types have been transitioning from one type to another. Different land cover/use types like agriculture especially have been growing on deciduous forest which is the largest land cover category in the area. Because the area size of deciduous forest has slightly increased it has also been growing on all other land cover/use types. Furthermore, problem animal incidents have also been increasing with an increase of human population size in the area. Therefore, there is no positive correlation between WMA and its ecosystem. However, for a complete analysis of the ecosystem other ecological and non-ecological variables such as wildlife population trend and rainfall should also be analyzed.
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