Land Use and Land-Cover Change at "W" Biosphere Reserve and Its Surroundings Areas in Benin Republic (West Africa)
Environment and Natural Resources Research
Biosphere Reserves stand as the worldwide strategy of biological conservation. However, the current global land use change involves extensive loss of vegetation cover around the reserves and increase their vulnerability and their ecological isolation. The overall objective of this study was to assess the trends of land covers change inand outside the "W" Biosphere Reserve (WBR) in Benin as well as the driving forces of land cover change in order to provide tools for its sustainable management.
... inable management. For this purpose, two serial times of maps from Landsat images TM 1995 and ETM+ 2006 were used to assess the rates and trends of the different land cover units from 1995 to 2006. Socioeconomic surveys based on structured interviews were conducted with 240 households in 8 villages around the reserve. Land clearing, tree logging, settlement and grazing were frequently quoted by the households as main driver forces inducing land cover change around WBR. Probability transition matrices of land cover displayed high probabilities (>0.6) in the southern part of WBR and moderate probabilities (0.3 to 0.5) in the northern part of WBR for woodland and savanna vegetation to be changed into cropland outside the reserve showing the persistence of vegetation degradation around WBR in the coming years. Our study revealed the urgent necessity of the development of conservation action planning to stop the agricultural frontline progression toward the reserve. Keywords: deforestation rate, land use and land cover change, probability transition matrices, temporal maps, W National Park The issue of land-cover/land use change has taken place since human beings shifted from goods harvesting in wild into the production of its own goods to satisfy its daily requirements (Turner et al., 1990) . Since then, natural vegetation was progressively converted into agriculture land for crop production, animal grazing and other land use types (Turner et al., 1990) . Due to the rapid increasing of the population demography during the two last centuries and subsequent land requirement for farming and urbanization, important amount of forest was converted into anthropogenic area (Turner et al., 1990; Ouedraogo et al., 2010) . The rhythm of degradation of primary ecosystems and declined of associated biodiversity was alarming during the two last centuries (Goudie, 2006) . Recently, FAO (2010) estimated the worldwide forest cover lost for about 13 million hectares per year during the last decade 2000-2010 with a persistent high decreasing rate in sub-saharan Africa. Most primary ecosystems are thereof been fragmented and large habitats are partitioned into smaller (Fahrig, 2003) . Sequel to habitat lost and land cover conversion in degraded ecosystem, protected areas were established all over www.ccsenet.org/enrr