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Mapping Natural Vegetation Vulnerability To Cash Crop Expansion: The Case Of Cashew Plantation In North-East Cote D’ivoire

Author: 
Akpa You Lucette, Dibi N’da Hyppolite, Danumah Jean Homian, Bruno Kouassi Kpangui and Valere Carin Jofack-Sokeng
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

The increasing world demand for cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) nuts and by-products generates rapid expansion of cashew cultivation across West-African countries especially in Cote d’Ivoire. This has created wealth for many smallholders. This is not to mention the pressure on forest-savanna transition zone. The aim of this study is to contribute to a better management of rural land by investigating the spatial trends of cashew production and assessing the natural vegetation vulnerability to future cashew expansion in the forest-savanna transition zone. A spatial dynamics of land use were analysed from 2001 to 2015 at a watershed level based on remote sensing-based classification and post-classification change detection. GIS and multicriteria analysis were used to analyse the natural vegetations’ vulnerability to future cashew expansion. The results identified cashew expansion (a rate of 7.24% per annum for the periods 2001-2015) as a major land use changes. From 2001 to 2015, more than 13305 ha (i.e. 19%) and 22539 ha (i.e. 33%) of forest/woodland and savanna areas respectively were converted to cashew plantations. Natural vegetation vulnerability to future cashew expansion was in the descending order of forest/woodland (21.43%), tree savanna (11.87%) and tree/shrub savanna (8.27%). This implies that cashew expansion is of higher threat to more woody vegetation which has serious implication in terms of conservation and carbon emissions. There is therefore a need for a more sustainable management approach to cashew agriculture practices to ensure optimum production for farmers, while conserving the forest-savanna ecosystem.

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