, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 365–379 | Cite as

Scenarios of land-use change in Sudano-sahelian countries of Africa to better understand driving forces

  • N. StephenneEmail author
  • E. F. Lambin


Dynamic simulation models allow an integrated representation of human and biophysical driving forces, to test their influence on land use. Dynamic models emphasise the interactions among the components of the system and take into account feedback loops and threshold effects. In this paper, the SALU model was used to generate “what-if” scenarios to explore hypotheses on the relative role of driving forces of land-use change in the Sudano-sahelian countries of Africa. The model simulations provided useful insights to better understand the processes of land-use change. Rural population growth represents a larger stimuli for land-use change than urban population growth. Demographic variables have a greater impact on land use than recurring droughts. The demographic driving forces are slow variables while rainfall is a fast variable. Recurring droughts could be viewed as trigger events, and urban population growth and consumption as mediating factors, while rural population growth defines long-term trends. Technological change defines thresholds in land use. Land-use change results from interactions between driving forces. The timing of occurrence of drought with respect to transitions in land use has a major impact on land-use change. Polices aimed at protecting pastoral land and supporting agricultural intensification both contribute to maintain pastoral activities. Simulating a conservative carrying capacity has a major impact on land use predictions. By examining environmental, social and economic implications of various land-use scenarios, the modelling approach adopted in SALU can provide support for decision-making.


desertification driving forces dryland degradation land-use change land use model Africa Sahel scenario 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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