Changing systems and changing landscapes: Measuring and interpreting land use transformation in African drylands
del Pozo, Pau Serra
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The linkages between global and policy drivers of land use on the one hand, and land cover data on the other are explored in four dryland areas (Machakos/Makueni Districts in Kenya; Maradi Department in Niger; Diourbel Region in Senegal; the Kano Close- Settled Zone in Nigeria). The findings are that (1) land cover change data are insensitive to short term changes in economic circumstances, mainly because a subsistence priority constrains the impact of market forces; (2) land use or cover variables are poor indicators of deepening agricultural intensification, decapitalisation, or significant transitions hidden in apparently degradational narratives; (3) land use adaptations are embedded in broader changes to livelihood strategies, whose understanding is necessary before constructing land cover scenarios for wider areas. For this reason it is unwise to speculate about supporting capacities or limits to adaptation; (4) representative analyses of process at micro-scale need to be linked in a systematic way to regional land cover scenarios based on remotely sensed data.