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FAO releases land cover atlas of Sudan

Sudan: A new land cover atlas of Sudan shows that less than 13 percent of land is used for agriculture. More than 50 percent is desert, 10 percent is covered by trees and a tiny 0.7 percent is covered by water. The atlas has been released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.

The atlas was produced by FAO’s SIFSIA (Sudan Integrated Food Security Information for Action) programme which is funded by the European Commission. SIFSIA worked in partnership with the Government of Sudan’s Food Security Technical Secretariat, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Remote Sensing Authority and the Forests National Corporation.

The atlas is based on an updated database of high-resolution satellite images that have been analysed and categorised by FAO experts and SIFSIA-trained government specialists.

The atlas is a valuable tool with many potential uses. It can be used to identify available agricultural land and pastures and to monitor water sources, land degradation and climate change. “It is an information-rich database which will significantly assist planning and environmental policy decision making in Sudan,” SIFSIA’s Chief Technical Adviser Alemu Asfaw said.

The atlas is divided into maps of each state, and provides a detailed bird’s eye view of Sudan’s natural land cover such as vegetation, bare rock, soil and water. It shows a great expanse of desert across the north speckled with pockets of settlement, agriculture and tree coverage. In the south-east, slabs of yellow indicate agricultural intensity, while spots of settlement and agriculture trace the River Nile’s path from south to north.

SIFSIA is already using the atlas to create a ‘change map’ for Gedarif in central-eastern Sudan. The change map compares the current satellite images with similar data from 2000 and will reveal how the land cover has changed over the past 12 years.

The atlas is also being used for a study of the supply of wood fuels in Sudan, called WISDOM (Woodfuel Integrated Supply and Demand Overview Mapping), that will help in sustainably managing the renewable natural resource.

Source: Sudan Vision