Human pressures on African protected areas

Dorit Gross studies how socio-economic pressures and biophysical preconditions drive land cover change in African protected areas and their surroundings. The study uses spatial datasets and GIS tools.

Even though, protected areas have become a cornerstone of today’s conservation activities, many protected areas in Africa face increasing human pressures due to a rapid human population growth and an increased need for natural resources. As a result, human disturbances such as settlements, agriculture, livestock grazing and logging can be found in many parks. While the problems have been widely acknowledged, the continental distribution of human pressures and their driving forces remains still poorly mapped and understood.

The research analyses the distribution and long-term dynamics of land cover changes in and around protected areas as indicator of human pressures. The impact of potential biophysical and socio-economic factors on land cover change is being studied to identify main drivers and to develop spatio-temporal models. The study is based on spatial datasets and GIS analysis tools.

Improving our knowledge about the dynamics of different socio-ecological systems and their impact on the successfulness of protected areas in conserving land cover, will help to identify current and potential critical hotspots of land cover conversions. Proactive measures can be taken by conservationists to address the main drivers of change and allocate limited resources.


Di Marco, M., G.M. Buchanan, Z. Szantoi, M. Holmgren, G. Grottolo Marasini, D. Gross, S. Tranquilli, L. Boitani, C. Rondinini. 2014. Drivers of extinction risk in African mammal: the interplay of distribution state, human pressure, conservation response and species biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369: 20130198

Dubois, G., M. Clerici, J.-F. Pekel, A. Brink, I. Palumbo, D. Gross, S. Peedell, D. Simonetti, M. Punga (2011). On the contribution of remote sensing to DOPA, a digital observatory for protected areas. 34th International Symposium on Remote Sensing and Environment, Sydney, Australia.

Gross D., G. Dubois, J-F. Pekel, P. Mayaux, M. Holmgren, H.H.T. Prins, C. Rondinini, L. Boitani (2013). Monitoring land cover changes in African protected areas in the 21st century. Ecological Informatics 14, 31–37

Dorit Gross
Dorit Gross
The elder of a village just outside Park W (Benin) tells us how the life in the village is influenced by the park.
The elder of a village just outside Park W (Benin) tells us how the life in the village is influenced by the park.