Mapping Distribution and Forecasting Invasion of Prosopis juliflora in Ethiopia's Afar Region

Friday, 19 December 2014: 2:55 PM
Amanda M West, Tewodros Wakie, Matt Luizza and Paul Evangelista, NASA DEVELOP National Program, USGS Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States
Invasion of non-native species is among the most critical threats to natural ecosystems and economies world-wide. Mesquite (which includes some 45 species) is an invasive deciduous tree which is known to have an array of negative impacts on ecosystems and rural livelihoods in arid and semi-arid regions around the world, dominating millions of hectares of land in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. In Ethiopia, Prosopis juliflora (the only reported mesquite) is the most pervasive plant invader, threatening local livelihoods and the country's unique biodiversity. Due to its rapid spread and persistence, P. juliflora has been ranked as one of the leading threats to traditional land use, exceeded only by drought and conflict. This project utilized NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) data and species distribution modeling to map current infestations of P. juliflora in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, and forecast its suitable habitat across the entire country. This project provided a time and cost-effective strategy for conducting risk assessments of invasive mesquite and subsequent monitoring and mitigation efforts by land managers and local communities.