Analysis of the Impacts of armed conflict on the Eastern Afromontane forest region on the South Sudan — Uganda border using multitemporal Landsat imagery

Virginia Gorsevski, Eric Kasischke, Jan Dempewolf, Tatiana Loboda, Falk Grossmann
2012 Remote Sensing of Environment  
The impacts of armed conflict on ecosystems are complex and difficult to assess due to restricted access to affected areas during wartime making satellite remote sensing a useful tool for studying direct and indirect effects of conflict on the landscape. The Imatong Central Forest Reserve (ICFR) in South Sudan together with the nearby Dongotana Hills and the Agoro-Agu Forest Reserve (AFR) in Northern Uganda share a boundary and encompass a biologically diverse montane ecosystem. This study used
more » ... satellite data combined with general human population trends to examine the impact of armed conflict and its outcome on similar forest ecosystems both during and after hostilities have occurred. A Disturbance Index (DI) was used to investigate the location and extent of forest cover loss and gain in three areas for two key time periods from mid-1980s to 2001 and 2003 to 2010. Results indicate that the rate of forest recovery was significantly higher than the rate of disturbance both during and after wartime in and around the ICFR and the net rate of forest cover change remained largely unchanged for the two time periods. In contrast, the nearby Dongotana Hills experienced relatively high rates of disturbance during both periods; however, post war period losses were largely offset by some gains in forest cover. For the AFR in Uganda, the rate of forest recovery was much higher during the second period, coinciding with the time people began leaving overcrowded camps. The diversity and merging of floristic regions in a very narrow band around the Imatong Mountains makes this area biologically distinct and of outstanding conservation importance; therefore, any future loss in forest cover is important to monitorparticularly in South Sudan where large numbers of people continue to return following the 2005 peace agreement and the 2011 Referendum on Independence.
doi:10.1016/j.rse.2011.10.023 fatcat:pccdvpipvbfgzlcps3rfmg4vbq