Human Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 561–583 | Cite as

Savanna Fires in East-Central Senegal: Distribution Patterns, Resource Management and Perceptions

  • C. Mbow
  • T. T. Nielsen
  • K. Rasmussen


The temporal and spatial distribution of fires for an area in east-central Senegal was determined on the basis of multi-temporal NOAA AVHRR satellite images. Three years of data (1990–1992) were analyzed defining the boundary between two different fire regimes: very few and scattered fires to the north with the majority of fires south of the boundary. This boundary was stable for the three dry seasons examined and was identical to the northernmost extension of fires as determined by visual inspection of a hard copy Landsat image mosaic. Fire frequencies were analyzed in relation to dominant vegetation types and yearly precipitation, and the findings compared to results of a field survey of the local population's perceptions of the causes and implications of fires. Survey results clearly showed that the use of fire in the study area is closely linked to the utilization of the environment for livestock grazing and crop production. We conclude that the local population has a high degree of awareness about the application of fire, that different fire use practices concerning can be identified respectively in the grasslands of the northern and the savanna of the southern parts of the study area, and that these practices reflect a well adapted production strategy. Finally, we recommend policy decisions be more flexible in the light of local understanding of fire use.

fire fire regime natural resource management remote sensing National Oceanic and atmospheric administration advanced very high resolation radiometer 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Mbow
    • 1
  • T. T. Nielsen
    • 2
  • K. Rasmussen
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut des Sciences de I'EnvironnementUniversity of DakarSenegal
  2. 2.Institute of GeographyUniversity of CopenhagenDenmark

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