, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 717-737
Date: 16 Nov 2012

Land use and cover dynamics in Africa since the nineteenth century: warped terrestrial photographs of North Ethiopia

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Quantitative research on land use and land cover (LUC) in Africa usually addresses the second half of the twentieth century, by using remote sensing data. Terrestrial photographs, which are available since 1868 in Ethiopia, are seldom used in a quantitative way. This paper presents a methodology that allows to produce land use and land cover (LUC) maps on the basis of old terrestrial photographs. Therefore, land use and land cover was investigated on historical and present-day photographs, and these interpretations were warped to the horizontal plane of the map. The resulting maps allow to gain better insights into LUC changes over a period of 140 years. The results show that woody vegetation increased strongly, together with an increase in built-up area. This occurred especially at the expense of bushland. The study validates pervious findings and shows that improved land management strategies in one of the world’s most degraded areas can lead to environmental rehabilitation.