Spatio-Temporal Dynamics in Land Use and Habitat Fragmentation within a Protected Area Dedicated to Tourism in a Sudanian Savanna of West Africa

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Nazinga Game Ranch (NGR) is a reserve in Burkina Faso involving local communities for securing biodiversity through sustainable management. Yet, its ecosystems are threatened by increasing number of elephants and illegal human activities. Renowned as a model of wildlife participatory management, NGR has mainly been studied for its animal wildlife only. The aim of this study was to uncover ecological effects of recent land management on savanna habitats including tourism, and to conclude on more sustainable options, land use/land cover (LULC) changes and vegetation dynamics in NGR were analyzed. This was accomplished with multi-temporal change detection using Landsat images of 1984, 2002 and 2013 to map seven representative LULC classification categories, and quantitative indices of landscape metrics. The results showed that the LULC dynamics in NGR from 1984 to 2013 was mainly characterized by an expansion of gallery forest, tree savanna and agricultural area and a reduction of shrub savanna, woodland and bare soils. From 2002 to 2013, fragmentation in all land cover types increased at the landscape level, whereas at the class level, it decreased for woodland. Our findings provided evidence of habitat degradation in NGR, due to extensive agriculture, tourism and growing of elephants’ population. According to the original management goals and the purposes of the reserve, both fauna and tourism are to be maintained and sustained in a sustainable way. Adaptation of land use and targeted wildlife management are the main requirements for avoiding further degradation of vegetation and thus of the existence basis of local inhabitants, animals and tourism.

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