LULC - Special topic

Land Use and Land Cover III

6607.2 - Mapping Land Degradation Based on the Composite Land Degradation Index for Palapye, Eastern Botswana

Thursday, July 6
3:10 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Maryland B

Land degradation is a global phenomenon affecting most terrestrial biomes and agro-ecologies, irrespective of whether they are found in low or high income nations (Nkonya et al. 2016, Le et al. 2016). Despite the global recognition of the need for sustained development attested to by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the agenda on land degradation neutrality, the natural resource base of countries continues to be degraded. There is a need to assess and map land degradation in order to address the loss of natural resources. Most assessments are at global, regional or national levels, causing disparities at local levels to be obscured. Thus, local level assessment and monitoring of degradation are required to compliment global assessments. Assessing land degradation at the local level better captures the processes involved in causing land susceptibility to different types of degradation. With the substantial cost implications inherent in combating degradation, policy makers require information about the status of land degradation to strategically intervene and prioritize spending in budgets (Le et al. 2016). They need reliable data about where land degradation is taking place, the types and intensity, driving factors, and impacts. Assessment and mapping are essential initial steps before any policy aimed at preventing degradation and/or restoring degraded land can be meaningfully implemented (Brabant 2010).

This study assessed and mapped land degradation using the composite land degradation index and mapping method (CLDI) developed by Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification Agropolis International (Brabant 2010). Assessment provided data on the state of land degradation, i.e. status, as well as the biophysical, economic and socio-cultural contexts. Mapping in a Geographic Information System (GIS) allows for data integration from various sources, applying spatial analysis and visualization techniques. CLDI entails identifying land degradation types, determining the extent and degree of each type of degradation. Palapye in eastern Botswana was used as case study as it is subject to environmental and socioeconomic transformation in a semi-arid context. In this context, land degradation indicators used for calculating the CLDI include soil erosion, physical, chemical and biological degradation. This formed the basis for developing a database comprising field observation data, results of laboratory analysis of soil and water samples, remote sensing data from satellite images and aerial photographs.

Maps of land degradation status based on CLDI values and dominant degradation types were produced. To depict degradation status categories on the map, a diverging color scheme was employed as this puts equal emphasis on the degradation categories at both extremes, for example, relatively undegraded and very high degradation. The map shows varying levels of land degradation with highly degraded areas found in the immediate vicinity of major settlements. As no prior land degradation data and maps were available, these maps provided baseline information which can facilitate efficient resource use and sustainable management of current development operations in Palapye. Moreover, the spatial distribution of degradation as visualized in maps is insightful.


Brabant P. 2010. A global land degradation assessment and mapping method: A standard guideline proposal. Issue 8. France: Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification Agropolis International.
Le QB, Nkonya E, Mirzabaev A. 2016. Biomass productivity-based mapping of global land degradation hotspots. In Nkonya E, Mirzabaev A, von Braun J. (eds) Economics of land degradation and improvement (p.55-84). Switzerland: Springer.
Nkonya E, Mirzabaev A, von Braun J. (eds.) 2016. Economics of land degradation and improvement: An introduction and overview. In economics of land degradation and improvement (p.1-14). Switzerland: Springer.

Felicia Olufunmilayo Akinyemi

Associate Professor
Botswana Inter. University of Science & Technology

Felicia O. Akinyemi has keen interest in the application of Geographic Information and Technologies (GI&Ts) to environmental and development-related issues. Such applied geospatial research projects include land degradation mapping in semi-arid contexts (, land use-land cover change assessment of several African towns, climate change impact on food security in West Africa, the conceptualization and development of the Rwanda Metadata Portal, a web catalogue service ( She has facilitated the development of GI&T curriculum in several African universities. She is currently an Associate Professor of Environmental Science at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology.


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Laura T. Tlhalerwa


Laura Tlhalerwa participated as a research assistant in the USAID/BIUST funded LDIMapping project from which this study emanated.


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William a. Mackaness

Senior Lecturer in GIS
The University of Edinburgh

William Mackaness is a senior lecturer at The University of Edinburgh in the School of GeoSciences. His research is in map generalisation - developing automated techniques for display of geographic information at multiple levels of detail. His interest extends into mapping via smartphone technologies. His work in Malawi and with aboriginal communities in Australia has led to an interest in the socio technical dimensions of GIS.


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6607.2 - Mapping Land Degradation Based on the Composite Land Degradation Index for Palapye, Eastern Botswana

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