The Influence of Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining on Deforestation Rates: The case of Seguenega, Burkina Faso.
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This paper investigates how Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems can be used to assess the influence of Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) on deforestation rates in Africa. Using the department of Seguenega in Burkina Faso as study case, deforestation rates were estimated on basis of multi-temporal satellite images. Firstly, images from 1986, 1991, 2002 and 2012 were classified into nine land-cover classes: Dense Vegetation/Forest, No vegetation, Sparse Vegetation, Water Bodies, Wetlands, ASGM sites, Rural Areas, Roads and Tracks. Secondly, using a post-classification comparison technique, the images were compared between each other to detect forest cover changes and estimate the amount of forest that was preserved, deforested and reforested through time. Thirdly, using a linear regression model, associations between forest cover loss and different variables associated with ASGM activities, were established. It is argued that as ASGM becomes the main source of income, the number of ASGM sites increases causing rises in the number of rural areas (population growth) and rises in the construction of roads and tracks, and that these factors in turn, lead to an increase in deforestation rates. It was found that the amount of forest cover that was preserved from one period of time to the next decreased significantly, and that there exist a strong association between the increase in the number of ASGM sites and the construction of tracks, with the latter, being the strongest factor related to deforestation rates.