Effects of land cover change on rangeland vegetation in W Biosphere Reserve, Benin Republic, West Africa
Due to the rapid increase in population, land cover has changed in Benin. Because of this, the management approach adopted by most developing countries in Africa for biodiversity conservation was the development of protected areas. But these areas were located where poverty and insufficient employment opportunities determined the population’s needs and activities hence, protected areas’ vulnerability increased. This study focused on land cover change evaluation inside the W Biosphere Reserve (WBR) in Benin during these last decades. For this purpose, three maps, taken in 1989, 2000 and 2013 were interpreted using the software Arc Gis 10.1. Dynamic area proportion values were calculated and transition matrices were elaborated. Results showed that land cover has changed considerably and these changes were mostly observed in the periphery of the hunting zone where settlements, farms and fallows were noticed and in high proportions in 2013 than in 1989 and 2000. Concerning natural vegetations, the savannahs increased from 1989 to 2000 and were the most represented land cover type in 2013 while dense forests, gallery forests and woodlands decreased in the same period. Our results highlights, the necessity to study the dynamics in floristic composition of the area in order to assess change in floristic composition and to redefine with actors the best management practices which will allow the protected areas to assume their main role of biodiversity conservation.
Keywords: Land cover, Maps, Dynamics, Change, Benin Republic