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Gettysburg College

Publication Date

Spring 2021

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


This study focuses on coastal forests in Kenya that have some of the highest variety of flora and fauna, specifically Arabuko Sokoke Forest. Arabuko Sokoke Forest is located 110 miles north of Mombasa and 18 kilometers south of Malindi. This forest is known to be a worldwide biodiversity hotspot that is home to endemic and rare plants and animals. Within the Arabuko Sokoke Forest ecosystem, there are two main issues that challenge the conservation of the area. First, there has been more competition for land, primarily for agriculture and development. Second, there is an increase demand for forest resources due to the rise in population. Therefore, this study aims to assess the spatial-temporal change in forest phenology over time around Arabuko Sokoke from 2003-2020 using the remotely sensed Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) and ground information. The specific objectives are to map spatial-temporal changes in forest phenology over the last 18 years of Arabuko Sokoke Forest; and to analyze the change of vegetation condition in combination with ground experiences to understand pressure and drivers of changes in order to develop future policy actions to minimize the deterioration. Based on the problems posed in Arabuko Sokoke Forest, I hypothesized there will be an immense change in vegetation phenology in the last 18 years driven mostly by climatic changes in addition to anthropogenic pressures. MODIS images were used to map the environmental changes over 5 distinct seasons: annual, long dry season (DJFM), long rainy season (AMJJ), short dry season (AS) and short rainy season (ON) from 2003- 2020. The vegetation condition index (VCI) was mapped in QGIS to visually represent the trends of each season over 18 years. Many of the years were consistent in trends in terms of vegetation health. The years 2007, 2016, 2017, and 2020, there were significant VCI trends with either low or high VCI grades, different than the other years. 2016 and 2017 in across all 5 seasons appeared to have low VCI grades. However, 2007 was found to have high VCI grades in multiple seasons. Although there may have been anthropogenic impacts at play, it was found that temperature had the largest influence in terms of changing the VCI over time. Future research poses that there should be an investigation of the exact causes of these VCI trends that were mapped. For instance, were they influenced by anthropogenic impacts, limited precipitation, poor policies, climate change, the influence of disease and how biodiversity would be impacted based on these drivers?


African Studies | Biodiversity | Bioinformatics | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Policy | Forest Biology | Forest Management | Spatial Science | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


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