News - Sep 17, 2020

Land degradation and regeneration in Mozambique: a new methodology for understanding the drivers of change

The N'Lab team has recently published a new methodology which shows that more than 25% of the country display a land productivity decrease between 2000 and 2016. This estimation at national scale could help decision-makers to better understand the dynamics and target priority areas for restoration

N’Lab and their partners from CIRAD (UMR TETIS and UR Forests and Societies) and from the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, have recently published a study in the journal Land Degradation and Development.

This study, carried out as part of the Laurel project and a PhD work, aimed at characterizing and mapping the underlying factors (human or climatic) in land productivity changes over the 2000-2016 period, in order to assess land degradation in Mozambique. Using analysis of satellite image times-series and vegetation index, the study show that 25% of the country display a land productivity decrease and 3% an increase. Authors show that more than two thirds of these changes are directly related to human activities (deforestation, forest degradation, loss of productivity in grassland...). The study also assesses the impact of existing definitions (UNCCD…) on the quantitative assessment of land degradation, and highlights significant differences according to stakeholders (between 12% and 20% of the Country is degraded).

The study fits in the context of the fight against land degradation. Indeed, Mozambique is committed to setting targets to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. These up-to-date and spatial estimation of the land condition in Mozambique can help decision-makers to design relevant land degradation mitigation policies or programs to combat land degradation and target priority areas for restoration.

Figure 1: Spatial distribution of the main factors of land productivity decrease in Mozambique

Decreases in land productivity are observed throughout the country (Figure 1). Climatic variability is the dominant factor of the decreases in the southern provinces (Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane) and deforestation the dominant factor in the Zambézia province. Increases in land productivity are mainly localized in the north of the country (Niassa and Cabo delgado) and is observed in forest or grassland (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Spatial distribution of the main factors of land productivity increases in Mozambique

The abstract is presented below and the article is available at the bottom of the page.

Remote sensing observations such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) trends can provide important insights into past and present land condition. However, they do not directly provide comprehensive information about our representation of land degradation and the processes at work. This study aimed to analyze vegetation productivity underlying factors in order to assess land degradation and to highlight the impact of definitions on its quantitative assessment, using Mozambique as case-study. Land productivity change were first analyzed using NDVI time-series (2000–2016), and a two-step framework was then used to understand the main factors of these productivity changes. The impact of land degradation's definition was assessed based on four types of stakeholder, with different priorities in terms of ecosystem services. The results show that 25% of the country display a significant land productivity decrease, while only 3% display a land productivity increase. A large part of these land productivity changes (>61% of the decrease, and >98% of the increase) is directly assigned to human activities, such as native forest growth or tree plantations (for the increase), or forest degradation, deforestation and loss of grassland productivity (for the decrease). We showed that the fraction of degraded land varies according to stakeholders' definitions, ranging from 12% to 20% of the Country, much less than the 39% estimated by Tier 1 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. This study provides a sound methodological framework for assessing land degradation status that could help stakeholders to design national and locally relevant land degradation mitigation policies or programs.
Reference: Montfort, F., Bégué, A., Leroux, L., Blanc, L., Gond, V., Cambule, A.H., Remane, I.A.D, Grinand, C., 2020. From land productivity trends to land degradation assessment in Mozambique: Effects of climate, human activities and stakeholder definitions. Land Degradation & Development; 1– 17.

>> Download the study below: