Sunday, June 8, 2008

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The impact of drought and over-grazing on the woody vegetation of Senegal's northeastern plateau is evident both on the ground and from space. On the left, one of the earliest satellite photographs ever taken of northern Senegal (Corona, 26 December 1965) shows ancient valleys cutting through gravelly plateaus, with extensive bushland vegetation. In the late 1950s, a borehole was drilled deep into the underlying aquifer at Revane, providing water in the dry season for livestock of the region's semi-nomadic pastoralists, the Fulani. By 1965, the early stages of landscape degradation (bright areas) around Revane are visible, a result of heavy livestock concentrations. By 1999, this badland phenomenon, exacerbated by years of drought, had spread extensively along the shallow valley slopes, leaving barren, unproductive surfaces (smooth, bright patches). A firebreak runs diagonally across the image from Revane to the northeast.
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