Remote Sensing and institutional cooperation for the wise use of wetlands in Kilombero, Tanzania

Example of a Land-use land-cover map of the kilombero floodplain for the year 2016 based on Sentinel-2 imagery. ©SWOS

Example of a Land-use land-cover map of the kilombero floodplain for the year 2016 based on Sentinel-2 imagery. ©SWOS

The SWOS project is collaborating with the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in assisting Tanzanian officials to implement a framework for sustainable wetland management in the Kilombero valley under the project KILORWEMP (Kilombero and Lower Rufiji Wetland and Ecosystem Management Project).

The Kilombero wetland is also a pilot-site of SWOS, and its land use/land cover maps and surface water dynamic models have been shared with BTC. These maps are generated using the new Sentinel satellites of the European Copernicus program. Their higher temporal resolution is proving to be a great advantage when dealing with complex land cover patterns in areas of high density of cloud cover.

The maps produced show the land conversion patterns that the area has experienced since 1990, the most prominent change by far being the agricultural expansion into the wetland. This information will be used by KILORWEMP to accomplish their aims of strengthening the capacity to implement a framework for sustainable management, fostering livelihoods’ sustainable development, and improving local governance and coordination of environmental management systems in Kilombero. There is a direct need for improved maps and monitoring of wetlands by different government bodies as baseline for national policy making. Further, improved information about these ecosystems would also support the reporting towards global conventions like the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands or the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

SWOS was also represented during the KILORWEMP workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on November 16th 2016. The workshop was organized as part of an Advisory Mission of the Ramsar Secretariat to Tanzania, and supported by the Belgian Study & Consultancy fund. During the workshop, the cartographic and technical information was presented to senior officials from the government of Tanzania, experts and other stakeholders. This allowed participants to have a clear picture of the current environmental situation in Kilombero, and of past and future landscape trends. The outcomes of the workshop will support the development and implementation of strategies for the sustainable management of large wetland landscapes.

By Javier Muro and Adrian Strauch, University of Bonn