FAO launches new Sudan land cover atlas

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 is being launched tomorrow (April 18th) 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 analyzed and categorized 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. “We’re grateful to the Food Security Technical Secretariat for their input into this major achievement for Sudan’s food security information system”.

Bird’s Eye View

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.

Monitoring Environmental Change

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.

Sharing Knowledge

The atlas is being distributed on CD and in hard copy to government line ministries, research institutes, UN agencies and Non-Government Organizations for their use. It is being officially launched at the National Information Centre on Wednesday 18th April. A new documentary produced by FAO about the atlas will also be screened at the event.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Press Release – 17 April 2012