Land cover change assessment using object-oriented classification based on image segmentation in the Binah river watershed (Togo and Benin)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Maleki Heou Badjana1,2, Joerg Helmschrot3, Kperkouma Wala4, Wolfgang-Albert Flugel1, Abel Afouda2 and Koffi Akpagana4, (1)Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Geoinformatics, Hydrology and Modeling, Jena, Germany, (2)West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL); Graduate Research Program of, Cotonou, Benin, (3)University of Hamburg, Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Hamburg, Germany, (4)University of Lome, Faculty of Sciences, Laboratory of Botany and Plant Ecology, Lome, Togo
Assessing and monitoring land cover changes over time, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa characterized by both a high population growth and the highest rate of land degradation in the world is of high relevance for sustainable land management, water security and food production. In this study, land cover changes between 1972 and 2013 were investigated in the Binah river watershed (North of Togo and Benin) using advanced remote sensing and GIS technologies to support sustainable land and water resources management efforts. To this end, multi-temporal satellite images - Landsat MSS (1972), TM (1987) and ETM+ (2013) were processed using object-oriented classification based on image segmentation and post-classification comparison methods. Five main land cover classes namely agricultural land, forest land, savannah, settlements and water bodies have been identified with overall accuracies of 75.11% (1972), 81.82% (1987), and 86.1% (2013) and respective Kappa statistics of 0.67, 0.76 and 0.83. These classification results helped to explicitly assess the spatio-temporal pattern of land cover within the basin. The results indicate that savannah as the main vegetation type in the basin has decreased from 63.3% of the basin area in 1972 to 60.4% in 1987 and 35.6% in 2013. Also the forest land which covered 20.7% in 1972 has decreased to 12.7% in 1987 and 11.7% in 2013. This severe decrease in vegetation mainly resulted from the extension of agricultural areas and settlements, which is, thus, considered as the main driving force. In fact, agricultural land increased of 61.4% from 1972 to 1987, 81.4% from 1987 to 2013 and almost twice from 1972 to 2013 while human settlements increased from 0.8% of the basin area in 1972 to 2.5% in 1987 and 7.7% in 2013. The transition maps illustrate the conversion of savannah to agricultural land at each time step relating to slash and burn agriculture, but also demonstrate the threat of environmental degradation of the savannah biome. However, at the same time, some proportions of agricultural land were converted to savannah relating to fallow agriculture. As a first assessment for the Binah river watershed, this study provides useful guidelines for vegetation restoration and conservation, efforts in managing land degradation and implementing integrated land and water resources management plans.