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Plantations in Campo-Ma’an: Cameroon - 01 February 1973. The Campo-Ma’an rain forest in southern Cameroon covers approximately 770 000 hectares of the Guineo-Congolian Regional Centre of Endemism—a species-rich area of rain forest with many species found nowhere else in the world. While the human population density is quite low, the area supports a host of economic activities, many of which threaten the area’s ecosystems, including logging, shifting agriculture, and commercial agro-forestry. These forces contribute to the deforestation rate in southern Cameroon, which is among the highest in central Africa.
Plantations in Campo-Ma’an: Cameroon - 26 April 2001. In the 1973 image the forest appears as largely intact. However, the impact of the agro-forestry industry, which is dominated by rubber and palm plantations, can be seen clearly in the centre of the 2001 image. Plantations, roads and cultivated areas dominate the landscape. These large-scale agro-industrial operations have replaced approximately 7.5 per cent of the area’s forest cover. Campo-Ma’an is an important focus of conservation efforts in Cameroon, and in 2000 the Campo-Ma’an National Park was created to protect its diverse fl ora and fauna. The park covers 26 400 hectares of diverse forests stretching from the coast to roughly 100 km inland.
The Drying Up of Lake Faguibine: Mali - 03 January 1974 - 26 December 1978. When Mali’s Lake Faguibine is full, it is among the largest lakes in West Africa—it covered an estimated 590 km2 in 1974—and is an important source of water for the surrounding area. The lake is at the end of a series of basins that receive water from the Niger River when it fl oods. Thus, water levels in Lake Faguibine are closely tied to the fl ow of the Niger River. A lack of rainfall in the catchments of either the lake or the river can affect water levels in Lake Faguibine. Water levels have fl uctuated widely in Lake Faguibine since the beginning of the 20th century. However, in the late 1980s, an extended period of reduced precipitation led to a complete drying up of the lake in the 1990s, making the traditional livelihoods of fishing, agriculture, and pastoralism diffi cult if
not impossible. Despite relatively normal rainfall in recent years, Lake Faguibine remains nearly dry.
The Drying Up of Lake Faguibine: Mali - 30 October 2006. A 2003 Columbia University study linked changes in sea surface temperature to drought in the Sahel during the 1970s and 1980s. More recent research has linked sea surface temperatures to human induced global warming. As global warming intensifi es, there may be more change in store for West Africa and for the people who depend on water resources such as Lake Faguibine for their livelihoods.
Protection of W National Park: Burkina Faso - 10 November 1972 - 06 October 1973. “W” National Park in Burkina Faso is part of the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex, a transboundary network of protected areas, which, taken together, are the largest and most important continuum of ecosystems in the West African savannah. The complex’s varied habitat is home to approximately 544 different plant species, 360 bird species, and more than 50 species of mammals including elephants and hippopotamuses. Partial eradication of the black and tsetse fl ies (carriers of river blindness and sleeping sickness), an infl ux of transhumant pastoralists due to Sahelian droughts, and government promotion of cotton growing, led to a regional population explosion in the late 1970s. Nevertheless, human
population in and around the Park remains relatively low, which, along with its protected status, has kept it the most pristine of Burkina Faso’s protected areas.
Protection of W National Park: Burkina Faso - 31 October 2005. In the early 1970s image, the boundary of the Park and surrounding protected areas is indistinguishable from adjacent lands. By 2005, areas of contrasting land use are easily visible, as is the Kompienga Reservoir. Built in 1989, the dam is a source of water for irrigated agriculture as well as a fi shery. Also visible in the 2005 image are scattered burn scars (dark reddish purple patches) as the dry season begins. Burning across most of the area is an annual occurrence.
Habitat Regeneration: Sidi Toui National Park, Tunisia - 02 January 1978. The semi-arid Sahelian grassland and scrub of southern Tunisia has been profoundly altered by human activities during the last century. Located on the northern fringe of the Sahara Desert, this ecosystem is susceptible to erosion and desertifi cation brought on by droughts, overgrazing, and agriculture. In 1993, Sidi Toui National Park was established. Within the bounds of this protected area, natural vegetation began to return. The 1987 image shows the barren condition of the region before the park was created. In the 2006, image the outline of the park, which is protected from the effects of grazing cattle, contrasts markedly with the surrounding landscape. Protection substantially increased the vegetation density and species diversity, particularly of the grasses.
Habitat Regeneration: Sidi Toui National Park, Tunisia - 14 January 2006. The Scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) and five other species of gazelles and antelope native to this area had been brought to near extinction by lack of habitat and overhunting throughout the 20th century. Classifi ed as critically endangered in 1996, a small population of Scimitar-horned oryx was introduced into Sidi Toui Park in 1999. If the population inside the park thrives, it may enable future reintroductions of Scimitar-horned oryx elsewhere, Sidi Toui also provides habitat for several native species of antelope, as well as a variety of birds species.
The Gorillas of Virunga National Park: DRC - 06 February 1978. The Virunga Park area is home to over half of the world’s 700 surviving mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). In an area approximately 40 km by 12 km with an elevation ranging from 2 300 to 4 507 metres there are a variety of ideal gorilla habitats including bamboo and montane forests. The area includes Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcans National Park in Rwanda and the Mikeno (Gorilla) sector of Virunga National Park in DRC. Surrounding these protected areas, however, are some of the densest human populations in Africa. In addition to population pressure, armed confl ict in the region has made habitat and species protection very diffi cult.
The Gorillas of Virunga National Park: DRC - 21 February 2005. In the 1978 image, a line between the protected areas and the populated agricultural areas surrounding the parks is already apparent. While the boundary of the parks has remained largely intact since the mid-1970s, during the 1990s and early 2000s, large numbers of people moved into the area surrounding the parks, many of them refugees from armed confl ict. A report by the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature documented a large coordinated infl ux of people from outside the area in May and June of 2004. The report estimated that 15 km2 of land at the west edge of the Park (yellow arrow) were deforested during this time. The decline in areas of green outside the protected areas suggests that few fallow fi elds and little natural vegetation remain—a sign of the agricultural intensity in this area.