Land cover changes and natural vegetation dynamics under remote and hostile conditions of northern Niger (1955-2023)
Hamza Guerbaoui1, Kira Fastner2, Thanh Thi Nguyen2, Youness Boubou2, Martin Wiehle2, Lamiae Ghaouti1, Andreas Buerkert2
1IAV Hassan II, Production, Protection and Plant Biotechnology, Morocco
Past and current knowledge about natural vegetation and land cover dynamics in the mountains of the Saharan Desert is largely limited, although these regions provide habitat for diverse taxa and livelihood options for humans and are considered stepping stones between northern and central African ecosystems. This study will focus on the Aïr Mountains of northern Niger as largely pristine socio-ecological systems. The region is inhabited by Touareg people, nowadays practicing irrigated oasis agriculture combined with sheep and goat pastoralism on sparse pasture land. Population pressure, accompanied by increasing livestock stocking rates and recurring drought conditions, affect vegetation patterns and biomass production in the region. Moreover, telecoupled urban demand of sprawling West African cities has led to an expansion of irrigated agriculture for cash-crop production. This has resulted in extensive land clearing and falling groundwater tables, potentially causing negative effects on pastures, wild plants, local varieties, and overall biodiversity.
Keywords: Agro-pastoral systems, mountain habitats, rangelands, telecoupling
Contact Address: Kira Fastner, University of Kassel, Organic Plant Production and Agroecosyst. Res. in the Tropics and Subtropics, Steinstr. 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany, e-mail: kira.fastneruni-kassel.de