Land Use / Land Cover Change And Impact On Carbon Stocks In The Atacora Chain Of Mountains, A Biodiversity Hotspot In Benin (West Africa)

Fidèle Tchossi Moutouama, Boateng Kyereh, Winston A. Asante, Samadori Sorotori Honoré Biaou, Andrew P. Rayburn, Armand K. Natta


Mountain areas are fragile ecosystems that play important roles in people’s livelihoods and maintenance of the global ecosystem through the provision of many ecosystem services. Land use/cover (LULC) change is considered one of the major threats to mountain areas due to its effects on ecosystem services including carbon stocks. In this study we assessed LULC change between 1987 and 2015 and its impact on aboveground carbon stocks in the Atacora Chain of Mountains (ACM) in Benin, West Africa. Supervised classification was performed to delineate LULC classes on three dates (1987, 2001 and 2015), and forest measurements carried out in the land cover classes, to estimate the aboveground biomass and the subsequent carbon stocks. Seven land cover classes were delineated: gallery forests, woodlands, savanna, water, settlements, bare lands and farm lands. LULC changes were characterized by three transitions: 1) the change of man-made land cover into savanna, 2) the change of natural vegetation into man-made land cover and 3) the degradation of gallery forests and woodland into less wooded vegetation. The aboveground carbon stock in gallery forests, woodland and tree savanna were significantly greater than in shrub savanna. During the 28 years of assessment, LULC change in gallery forests, woodland and savanna caused an estimated overall aboveground carbon release of 17.10% in the ACM. From the aboveground carbon quantity in the ACM, it appeared that this ecosystem is a potential carbon reservoir. Because the aboveground carbon stock in shrub savanna is significantly lower as compared to gallery forests, woodland and tree savanna and the rates of degradation from gallery forests and woodland to savanna are high, 53.62% and 59.99% respectively in 28 years, LULC change may undermine the ACM ability to store carbon and contribute to climate change mitigation. There is a need to investigate the drivers of this degradation for actions to preserve the natural vegetation in the ACM.

Keywords: Atacora Chain of Mountains; Land use/land cover (LULC); Benin; West Africa; Carbon stock

DOI: 10.7176/JEES/10-6-13

Publication date:June 30th 2020

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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