Land cover change and plants diversity in the Sahel: A case study from northern Burkina Faso


  • Abel Kadeba Laboratory of Botany and plant Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 03 BP 7021 Ouagadougou 03 (Burkina Faso)
  • Blandine Marie Ivette Nacoulma Laboratory of Botany and plant Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 03 BP 7021 Ouagadougou 03 (Burkina Faso)
  • Amadé Ouedraogo Laboratory of Botany and plant Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 03 BP 7021 Ouagadougou 03 (Burkina Faso)
  • Yvonne Bachmann J. W. Goethe University, Institute of Ecology, Evolution and Diversity. Max-von-Laue-Str. 13, 60438 Frankfurt am Main. Germany
  • Adjima Thiombiano Laboratory of Botany and plant Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 03 BP 7021 Ouagadougou 03 (Burkina Faso)
  • Marco Schmidt Senckenberg Research Institute, Dept. Botany and mol. Evolution, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, J. W. Goethe University, Institute of Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Max-von-Laue-Str. 13, 60438 Frankfurt am Main. Germany, Biodiversity and Climate research Center (BiK-F). Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Joseph Issaka Boussim Laboratory of Botany and plant Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 03 BP 7021 Ouagadougou 03 (Burkina Faso)



land degradation, land cover changes, phytodiversity, geomorphology, Burkina Faso


Understanding land cover degradation patterns and the effects of geomorphological units on phytodiversity is important for guiding management decisions and restoration strategies in the Sahelian vulnerables zones. This paper describes land cover degradation by combining Landsat TM image analysis and field data measurements in the Gourouol catchment of the Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso. Erdas Imagine 9.2 and Arc-GIS.10 were applied. The change patterns were obtained by superposing land cover maps for 1992 and 2010. The field data were collected by the mean of inventories according to the Braun-Blanquet phytosociological relevés methods. Plot sizes were 50 m x 20 m for woody species and 10 m x 10 m for herbaceous species. Six land cover types were identified and mapped: cultivated lands, bared lands, lowlands, which all spatially increased; and shrub-steppes, grasslands and water bodies, which all spatially decreased. The dynamic patterns based on the geomorphological units were non-degraded lowlands, stable sand dunes and degraded glacis. High plant diversity was found in lowlands, whereas low diversity occurred in glacis. A significant dissimilarity was observed between communities. The Shannon diversity indices in plant communities were approximately close to ln(species richness). The Pielou indices were close to 1, indicating a species fairly good distribution. Our results showed a variation of land cover over time and the effects of geomorphological units on phytodiversity. Furthermore, this variation helps oppose land degradation in the Sahel.


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