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Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

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Integrated assessment of the environmental impact of an IDP camp in Sudan based on

very high resolution multi-temporal satellite imagery
Michael Hagenlocher , Stefan Lang, Dirk Tiede
Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS), Salzburg University, Schillerstr. 30, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Population displacement due to armed conicts, regional crises, or natural disasters often leads to large-scale
Received 27 March 2012 settlements that impact the local environment. The specic dynamics of such semi-permanent settlements,
Received in revised form 16 July 2012 comprising both the structural changes (to the extent of the camp, and the population density), and their
Accepted 11 August 2012
wider impacts on the surroundings, require adaptive monitoring capacities. In areas where livelihoods and
Available online 1 September 2012
food security are highly dependent on natural resources, environmental deterioration can result in violent
conicts over access to, or control of, scarce natural resources, or in renewed migration of the population.
Retrospective time series analysis Remote sensing, and in particular very high spatial resolution satellite imagery, can help determine the actual
Environmental impact population dynamics, together with environmental changes in the surrounding areas. In an ex-post assess-
Land use/land cover ment using three time slices (2002, 2004, 2008) we assessed the changing environmental conditions and
Object-based image analysis (OBIA) the resulting implications for human security and ecosystem integrity in the vicinity of a large internally
Integrated spatial indicators displaced persons (IDP) camp in northern Darfur, Sudan. We used a Weighted Natural Resource Depletion
Weighted Natural Resource Depletion index index that integrates selected land use/land cover target classes and their relative importance for human
security and/or ecosystem integrity by incorporating weightings assigned by experts to each of these classes.
Displaced population
The results showed that the dramatic increase in the camp's population between June 2002 and May 2008
(from approximately 1200 to about 50,000 inhabitants) and areal extent (a growth of ~ 436%) was accompanied
by a noticeable decrease in the area covered by single shrubs and small trees (~ 68%), in the area covered by
patches of shrubs and trees (~ 34%), and in the area covered by grassland (~ 3%). Moreover, a marked expansion
in small-scale farming was observed, especially into fertile wadi soils. Almost 45% of all grid cells (60 m60 m) had
experienced at least some degree of depletion of natural resources (i.e. woody vegetation, grassland, etc.) between
2002 and 2008. Major depletion was observed in the north-eastern and eastern parts of the camp in particular, while
minor depletion occurred over almost all of the study area.
2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction include shifting patterns of climate-related hazards (e.g., droughts,

oods, etc.) and the disastrous impact that this is likely to have on the
1.1. Population displacement global gures and trends lives of some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable population
groups (Solomon et al., 2007). Moreover, the impacts of changing climat-
As a result of armed conicts, generalised violence, natural or ic conditions on the availability of natural resources, coupled with ad-
man-made disasters, and the direct or indirect impacts of climate verse socio-economic and political conditions (i.e. population growth,
change, population displacement has grown continuously in both weak governance, land tenure disputes, etc.), are expected to intensify
size and complexity over recent decades. At the end of 2010 the Inter- the existing competition for natural resources, particularly for water, fer-
nal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported more than 42.5 tile land and forests (Solomon et al., 2007; UNEP, 2011a). In response to
million displaced people, distributed over 54 countries (IDMC, 2011). the growing pressures on landscapes and rural livelihoods, and the
This gure is made up of approximately 27.5 million internally dis- resulting tensions between communities or livelihood groups, millions
placed persons (IDPs) and 15 million transnational refugees (ibid). of people could be forced to ee their homes over coming decades
The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Cli- (Maxwell & Reuveny, 2000; Myers, 2005; Raleigh & Urdal, 2007; UNEP,
mate Change (IPCC) suggests that these numbers are very likely to 2011a).
increase further due to the projected impacts of climate change, which
1.2. Population displacement and the environment
Corresponding author. Tel.: +43 662 8044 7584; fax: +43 662 8044 7560.
E-mail addresses: (M. Hagenlocher), The majority of today's 42.5 million displaced people in the world (S. Lang), (D. Tiede). live in camps, or on the fringes of urban settlements in developing

0034-4257/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
28 M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

countries. In many cases this results in grave consequences for the particularly true for low to medium spatial resolution imagery (for
local environment, leading to further deterioration in the socio- which a large database of archived imagery is available, with global cov-
economic, sanitary, and political conditions within the host commu- erage), but also now for high and very high spatial resolution (VHR)
nities (Hugo, 2008; Jacobsen, 1997; Vanasselt, 2003). The sudden in- imagery, as more and more commercial satellites become available
ux of large numbers of IDPs or refugees into a spatially limited area leading to improved coverage. Such continuous acquisitions can be
can place severe pressure on the local environment and on existing used to assess changes in camp evolution and population dynamics
natural resources. The United Nations Environment Programme (e.g. population numbers and densities), as well as associated pressures
(UNEP) has highlighted that environmental degradation is occurring exerted on the environment by human activities such as wood gather-
right across the planet, but it is particularly intense and widespread ing, overgrazing, etc. (Hagenlocher, 2011; Lang et al., 2010). Another
in areas where large numbers of people are forced to live in close crucial benet of remote sensing is that it can deliver valuable informa-
proximity (UNEP, 2006). The environmental impact of refugee or tion on areas that are either difcult (i.e. remote or with restricted
IDP camps varies not only according to their location, but also areas) or dangerous to access on the ground (Aschbacher, 2002; Kelly,
according to their type (refugee or IDP camp). IDP camps generally 1998), both of which apply to the majority of refugee settlements and
tend to have fewer relief resources available, making camp residents especially to IDP settlements.
more dependent on locally available natural resources (UNEP, Although satellite imagery has been available for more than four
2007). The root cause for this relief assistance gap is that IDPs are decades, the use of remote sensing for IDP or refugee camp monitor-
not covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention (UNHCR, 2007) as ing is a relatively new eld. Remote sensing applications in the con-
they do not cross any international borders and are therefore not text of refugee camp mapping or monitoring have, to date, primarily
the responsibility of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refu- concentrated on the production of:
gees (UNHCR).
Maps displaying the general situation in the form of information on
The impact of refugee/IDP camps on the environment is well doc-
infrastructure, road networks, water resources, land use and cover,
umented in published literature (e.g. Gorsevski et al., 2012), indicat-
elevation, and terrain (Bjorgo, 2000a, 2000b; Lohdi et al., 1998);
ing that emigration tends to reduce pressure at the place of origin
Maps and statistical presentations showing information on popula-
and increase pressure at the destination (Hugo, 1996). Severe defor-
tion characteristics, such as population dynamics, population distri-
estation due to re-wood shortages in dry-land camp areas, deserti-
butions, and population densities (Gayer et al., 2009; Giada et al.,
cation, land degradation, unsustainable groundwater extraction, and
2003; Kemper et al., 2011; Laneve et al., 2006; Lang et al., 2010,
groundwater pollution are all impacts that can be observed in the sur-
2006b; Schwethelm et al., 2009; Tiede & Lang, 2008, 2009);
roundings of many of such camps, i.e. within a radius of up to 15 km
Geo-visualisation approaches (e.g., in virtual globe browsers), show-
(Allan, 1987; Biswas & Tortajada-Quiroz, 1996; Ghimire, 1994; Hugo,
ing the historical evolution of a camp, with a focus on the size of the
1996; Sato et al., 2000; TEARFUND, 2007). Environmental degrada-
camp, or population dynamics over time (Lang et al., 2006b; Tiede &
tion, particularly in semi-arid and arid areas where human security
Lang, 2008, 2009, 2010).
(i.e. livelihoods, food security, etc.) is highly dependent on the avail-
ability of natural resources, can result in (i) renewed migration pres- Very few studies to date have used remote sensing data to investi-
sure producing new waves of environmental refugees or (ii) tensions gate the environmental impacts of refugee or IDP camps (Bjorgo,
and conicts over access to, or control of, scarce natural resources 2000b; Hagenlocher, 2011; Kranz et al., 2010a, 2010b; Lohdi et al.,
(UNEP, 2011a; UNHCR, 1998). 1998; Sprhnle et al., 2010).
Because of these impacts, environmental concerns related to IDP
and refugee streams have become increasingly important in political 1.4. Aim of this study
agendas during recent years. The increasing interest of the United Na-
tions (i.e. UNEP, UNHCR) in the relationship between refugee and/or Against the background outlined above, our study aims to demon-
IPD settlements and the state of the environment indicates a new and strate the specic benets, efciency, and cost effectiveness of using
urgent need for geo-spatial analyses and conditioned (policy-oriented) state-of-the-art remote sensing technology to provide conditioned
information that can be used to reduce the loss of natural resources (Lang et al., 2008) geo-spatial environmental information that can
caused by such camps and the substantial funding required to reverse be used to support crisis and IDP or refugee camp management in
the damage (UNHCR, 2009). In order to tackle this need the UNEP has conict situations. More specically, this paper presents an integra-
recently started to address the environmental impacts of IDP and refu- tive and transferable approach for the (i) quantication, (ii) system-
gee camps through their post-conict environmental assessment atic monitoring, and (iii) evaluation of the environmental impacts of
(PCEA) activities. Primary assessments have been conducted in Liberia such camps, based on time series of VHR remote sensing data incor-
(UNEP, 2006), Sudan (UNEP, 2007), the Democratic Republic of the porating additional input from experts in this particular eld. In this
Congo (UNEP, 2011b) and Rwanda (UNEP, 2011c). However, despite context, we developed and applied an index called the Weighted Natural
the fact that such PCEAs are often carried out in areas that are remote Resource Depletion (NRDw) index. This integrated spatial index was in-
and unsafe, they are mostly based on eld surveys that are both time troduced to evaluate the implications of environmental changes ob-
and cost intensive, and make little or no use of state-of-the-art remote served in the vicinity of refugee or IDP settlements for human security
sensing technology. (i.e. food and livelihood security in the region) and ecosystem integrity
(i.e. the state and intactness of ecosystems), based on weightings decid-
1.3. Remote sensing for refugee and IDP camp monitoring ed by experts.

Remote sensing is a valuable source of geo-spatial information for 2. Materials and methods
crisis and disaster management (Ehrlich et al., 2009; Joyce et al., 2009;
Pesaresi et al., 2007; Tiede et al., 2011; Voigt et al., 2007). In this context 2.1. Study site and data
satellite imagery offers an objective (unbiased), cost-effective, and ver-
iable source of information (Aschbacher, 2002). Moreover, remote The area investigated in this study was the Zam Zam IDP camp in
sensing technology can provide a window into the past as it allows a northern Darfur, Sudan, and its surroundings (Fig. 1). The camp is lo-
unique retrospective (ex-post assessment) examination of the spatio- cated to the south-west of two major wadis, approximately 15 km to
temporal changes in the specic phenomenon under investigation the south of Al-Fashir, the capital of northern Darfur. It lies between
(Aschbacher, 2002; Lang et al., 2010; Lohdi et al., 1998). This is longitudes of 2517 and 2519 east and latitudes of 1328 and 13
M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738 29

Fig. 1. The study area in northern Darfur, Sudan. The map from 2002 (left) shows the existing settlement before the rst IDPs arrived in Zam Zam, while the maps from 2004
(centre) and 2008 (right) show the extent of the camp one year and ve years after the outbreak of the violent conict in Darfur.

30 north, at an elevation of about 680 to 730 m a.s.l. The entire area the results of the object-based land use/land cover (LULC) classica-
of investigation is located within the semi-arid Sahel zone, which is a tion (Table 1).
particularly vulnerable environment (UNEP, 2007, 2011a) with a
highly variable climate, i.e. low annual rainfall with a high seasonal 2.2. Methodology
variability and inter-annual uctuations (Kevane & Gray, 2008;
UNEP, 2007, 2011a). Violent conict in Darfur, between the Sudanese 2.2.1. Cognition network
Government and two loosely allied rebel movements (the Justice and In recent decades the concepts of land use and land cover have be-
Equality Movement, and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army), come intertwined, often due to the demands of different users in-
resulted in approximately 200,000 to 400,000 people being killed volved in the procurement process. Land classications often mix up
and an estimated 2.7 million IDPs in the years from 2003 to 2009 concepts of land cover, land use, and other environmental attributes
(IDMC, 2011). The rst IDPs came to Zam Zam in mid-2003, and such as soil type, etc. (Wyatt & Gerard, 2001), resulting in ambiguity
began to settle around the existing village. The number of people liv- and confusion (Comber et al., 2008). To avoid any such confusion this
ing in Zam Zam grew steadily from approximately 1200 inhabitants study uses a exible and transparent cognition network (Lang et al.,
in 2002 (Lang et al., 2010) to more than 19,000 in 2004 (OCHA, 2006a), which is integrated into the FAO-UNEP Land Cover Classica-
2007) and more than 50,000 in 2008 (UNAMID, 2008), making Zam tion System (LCCS).
Zam one of the largest IDP camps in Darfur today. The cognition network, which displays the actual class descrip-
The satellite data used for this study are existing time series (ac- tions according to the LCCS scheme (Fig. 2), serves as a conceptual
quisition dates: t0 = 2008/05/08, t1 = 2004/12/20 and t2 = 2002/ framework for both (i) the subsequent LULC classication, and
06/18) from commercial VHR optical satellite imagery (i.e. QuickBird, (ii) the indicator-based evaluation of the impacts of observed environ-
DigitalGlobe). Additional geo-spatial datasets were used to enhance mental changes in the vicinity of the Zam Zam IDP camp. It contains

Table 1
Datasets and their characteristics.

Dataset Spatial Acquisition Data source Attributes Parameter of

resolution date interest

Satellite imagery
QuickBird 0.6 m 2008/05/08 Digital Globe Pan-sharpened, orthorectied, three optical Land use/
(resampled) (t0) (RGB) and one near-infrared (NIR) band land cover
QuickBird 0.6 m 2004/12/20 Digital Globe Pan-sharpened, orthorectied, three optical Land use/
(resampled) (t1) (RGB) and one near-infrared (NIR) band land cover
QuickBird 0.6 m 2002/06/18 Digital Globe Pan-sharpened, orthorectied, three optical Land use/
(resampled) (t2) (RGB) and one near-infrared (NIR) band land cover

Additional geo-spatial datasets

Camp/ settlement outline at N/A N/A Derived from kernel density N/A Camp extent
t0, t1, t2 calculations based on extracted and evolution
dwelling units (Lang et al., 2010)
Roads and tracks 1:100,000 2003/05/30 FAO Africover ( N/A Roads and
(scale) (reference date) tracks
30 M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

Fig. 2. Cognition network embedded into the FAO-UNEP LCCS (modied from Hagenlocher, 2011).

eight target classes (NRDw target classes), which are utilised for subse- and iterative manner required for advanced class modelling. A master
quent monitoring of natural resource depletion (NRD), as well as seven rule-set was developed on the basis of the QuickBird image from 2002
silent land cover classes, which do not include any direct statement on (t2), and then transferred to the other two images (t1, t0). Initial
the amount of NRD in the vicinity of the Zam Zam camp. objects were delineated following a multi-scale bottom-up, region-
The cognition network not only controls the classication process merging, local mutual best tting segmentation approach that merges
as such, but also facilitates communication and interaction with po- segments according to the gradient of the degree of tting (Baatz &
tential users, stakeholders, or experts. Schpe, 2000; Benz et al., 2004), resulting in a strict image object hier-
archy. The decision whether or not to merge two neighbouring objects
2.2.2. Object-based image analysis (OBIA) and class modelling for LULC on the same level of the image object hierarchy is based on local homo-
classication geneity criteria that describe the similarity of adjacent objects (Benz et
During the last decade object-based image analysis (OBIA) has al., 2004).
been widely acknowledged as a standard approach for analysing re- Within this context suitable scale parameter values were derived
mote sensing data, and in particular VHR optical data (Blaschke, using the Estimation of Scale Parameter (ESP) tool (Dragut et al.,
2010). OBIA is based on two interrelated methodological components 2010), which is based on the idea put forward by Woodcock and
that aim to characterise and classify spatially relevant real-world en- Strahler (1987) concerning local variance of object heterogeneity
tities (Lang, 2008) by (i) using multi-scale segmentation techniques within a particular scene. The ESP tool was used in order to reduce
(Blaschke et al., 2004) to represent a complex scene in a set of scaled processing time required, compared to traditional trial-and-error op-
and nested representations, and (ii) addressing this complexity timisation approaches, and to increase the degree of objectivity and
of spectral, geometrical, and topological relationships in rule-based the level of automation during the rule-set development process.
classiers that are based on expert-knowledge. The OBIA workow The ESP-tool thereby iteratively generates image objects in a
is cyclic rather than strictly sequential, being characterised by an iter- bottom-up approach, calculating the local variance for each scale.
ative sequence of segmentation (or regionalisation) processes and The variation in heterogeneity is then explored by evaluating the
classication-constrained regionalisation, which is known as class local variance plotted against the corresponding scale (Dragut et al.,
modelling (Tiede et al., 2010, 2008). Class modelling is highly adap- 2010). The thresholds for rates of change in the local variance indicate
tive and able to accommodate different categories of target classes the most appropriate scales to use for segmenting an image. More-
from a variety of domains (Lang et al., 2010). over, to better distinguish (i) between vegetated and non-vegetated
In order to classify LULC properties and their spatiotemporal areas, and (ii) variations within vegetated areas, the Normalised Dif-
changes, a class modelling approach was applied to each of the VHR ference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was calculated using the following
satellite images (t0, t1, t2), making use of the modular eCognition equation (Rouse et al., 1973), and integrated into the class modelling
Network Language (CNL) within the eCognition (Trimble Geospatial) process as an additional layer:
software environment. This modular (image-) object analysis pro-
gramming language not only supports tasks such as branching, NIRRed
looping, and the denition of variables, but also enables the analyst NIR Red
to generate scaled objects in a region-specic manner, that can be
addressed individually (Tiede et al., 2010). Thus CNL enables the cou- To further enhance the results of the class modelling approach,
pling of steps involved in segmentation and classication in the cyclic two additional geo-spatial datasets (i.e. camp/settlement outline
M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738 31

and roads and tracks; see Table 1) were integrated into the segmen- 2008) independent of administrative boundaries (which are often
tation and classication process as thematic layers. unable to reect subtle changes or temporal developments in contin-
In accordance with the cognition network (Fig. 2), the allocation of uously varying spatial phenomena). This overcomes the modiable
image objects to the dened LULC categories was carried out by com- area unit problem (MAUP; Openshaw, 1984), and at the same time
bining multi-spectral information (mean layer values, brightnesses, provides a standardised, and scalable reporting scheme.
standard deviations, and layer ratios) with geometric (area, length, The implementation applied a post-classication change detection
length/width, compactness), contextual (distance to, border to, rela- approach introduced by Tiede et al. (2012), based on a topologically
tive border to), and hierarchical (existence of sub-/super objects) ob- enabled object-by-object comparison in which changes were aggre-
ject properties. Thus most of the LULC categories were dened using a gated to a change detection layer (here a 60 m 60 m grid). This ap-
mixture of both crisp (i.e. Boolean) and fuzzy (Benz et al., 2004) proach is able to integrate additional constraints (such as, in this case,
membership functions. a focus on the relative areas of the eight NRDw target classes per grid
cell see Fig. 2), as well as the standardised weighting factors, which
2.2.3. Accuracy assessment were calculated for each time step. Fig. 3 provides an overview of the
Any meaningful quantication of spatiotemporal environmental post-classication change detection framework.
changes based on multi-temporal LULC classications clearly depends An expert-based weighting exercise was conducted within a
on the correctness of the individual classications, i.e. the congru- workshop on Global Monitoring at the 2009 Geoinformatics Forum
ence between classication and reality (Foody, 2002). A site-specic ( in Salzburg, Austria, in order to deter-
thematic accuracy assessment was therefore conducted for each of mine the overall ecological and societal (relative) importance (RI)
the LULC classication results (t0, t1, t2), in order to provide infor- of the LULC categories, thus indicating where natural resource deple-
mation on the accuracy of the derived LULC products. However, as tion had the highest impact on human security (HUM), ecosystem in-
Foody (2002) points out, the results of an accuracy assessment can tegrity (ECO), or a combination of both (HUM & ECO), within the
only be meaningful if accurate ground or reference data is available. study area (cf. Table 4). In this context regional key experts (n = 2)
Unfortunately, ground data could not be collected for our study due of two different domains (n1: GIS and natural resource management;
to the life-threatening conditions in the conict-shaken Darfur region n2: GIS and environmental remote sensing) were asked to assess the
(WCRWC, 2006). Visual interpretation of the available satellite imagery RI of selected LULC categories (i.e. the NRDw target classes) to HUM
time series was therefore performed as the best available alternative. and ECO on a scale from zero to ve [0 | 5], where zero means that
More than 200 points were distributed within each image (t0, t1, t2) the LULC category is not relevant and ve reects a very high RI. As
using stratied random sampling (Congalton & Green, 2009) to ensure mentioned above, only the identied NRDw target classes were
an adequate number of samples per LULC category. The inherent basic weighted, while the remaining silent land cover categories (Fig. 2)
measurements of classication accuracy (i.e. producer's accuracy, user's were ascribed a zero weighting. In order to be able to calculate an in-
accuracy, and overall accuracy; ibid.) were determined for each classi- tegrated weighting showing the RI of the LULC categories to both
cation result, using a traditional error matrix approach (Congalton & HUM and ECO, the experts were then asked to distribute a total of
Green, 2009; Foody, 2002). 100 points to derive the weightings for HUM and ECO combined
(Table 4).
2.2.4. Integrated spatial indicators Using the results from the workshop, the relative proportions for
In Darfur, as in large parts of the Sahel, the environment is central each of the NRDw target classes were multiplied by standardised
to people's lives as it provides food, shelter, energy, and strategies for weighting factors (Wstand) and ultimately summed up according to
coping in times of hardship. Most traditional rural livelihoods in the the following equation:
region are a direct function of the environment, in which the natural
resources are livelihood assets for both pastoralists and sedentary
communities (Tearfund, 2007). However, this relationship has been
disrupted by the on-going conict, and most residents in the majority 0 1
of IDP camps no longer have access to their pre-conict livelihoods RI@ ECO A Pi  W i 2
(Buchanan-Smith & Jaspers, 2007). Their food and livelihood security, HUM&ECO i1
as two major components of human security, are thus highly depen-
dent on the provision of external aid (i.e. food, shelter, etc.) and the
availability of natural resources in the area surrounding the camp.
With this in mind, an integrated spatial Weighted Natural Resource
Depletion (NRDw) index was developed and applied to the Zam Where
Zam IDP camp (as an example) in order to evaluate the impacts of ob-
served environmental changes on ecosystem integrity (i.e. the state RI Relative importance of the grid cell (60 m 60 m) to HUM,
ECO or HUM and ECO
and intactness of ecosystems) and on human security (i.e. food and
livelihood security in the region), in the vicinity of refugee or IDP i-n LULC categories
P Relative area of the LULC categories per grid cell
The approach integrates (i) selected LULC target classes (NRDw W Expert-based standardised weighting factors (Wstand)
target classes) that were derived from the available time series of op-
tical VHR satellite imagery (Fig. 2) and their variation over time, with Following this approach, the RI of the grid cells to human security
(ii) the outcomes of an expert-based survey into the relative impor- (HUM), ecosystem integrity (ECO) or a combination of both (HUM &
tance (RI) of these target classes to ecosystem integrity and/or ECO) was calculated (Fig. 3).
human security (Table 4). For communication and visualisation pur- In order to facilitate the interpretation of the results, the
poses the methodological approach that we developed uses a contin- weightings were standardised within a new range from zero to one
uous grid level of 60 m 60 m (i.e. one hundred times the spatial [0 | 1], where zero reects a very low RI and one a very high RI of
resolution of the QuickBird sensor) as the nal reporting unit. This ap- the target class to HUM, ECO, or HUM & ECO. After taking these
plies an aggregation mode that reects continuous and, depending on standardised weightings (Table 4) into account, a detailed picture of
formulated policy-requirements, spatially adjustable reporting units, the NRD and its implications for the population and ecosystems
enabling the provision of conditioned information (Lang et al., in the vicinity of the camp emerges. A grid cell can, for example, be
32 M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

Fig. 3. Object-based change detection framework as a basis for the weighted natural resource depletion (NRDw) index analysis, based on the three LULC classications (modied
from Tiede et al, 2012).

100% susceptible to NRD while at the same time its relative impor- 3. Results and discussion
tance to the local population or the environment is relatively low.
Finally, the actual degree of NRD was monitored by assessing the 3.1. LULC classication and accuracy assessment
changes in RI values over the years, based on the following equation:
Fig. 5 shows the results of the knowledge-based LULC classica-
0 1 0 1 0 1 tions for the available time-series of multispectral satellite imagery.
HUM HUM HUM Fig. 5a displays the LULC conditions based on the image recorded
on June 18, 2002 (t2), approximately one year before the outbreak
of the violent conict in Darfur. As the image was recorded at the be-
ginning of the rainy season, planting and cropping activities had not
Fig. 4 summarises the overall workow for calculating the NRDw yet begun. The upper right image (Fig. 5b) presents the LULC condi-
index. tions based on the image recorded on December 20, 2004 (t1),

Fig. 4. Workow for calculating the NRDw index, based on multi-temporal LULC information.
M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738 33

Fig. 5. Results of the knowledge-driven LULC classications: a) t2 (2002/06/18), b) t1 (2004/12/20) and c) t0 (2008/05/08).

more or less one year after rst IDPs had arrived in Zam Zam (due to recorded in 2002 (t2), this image (t0) was recorded at an early
the outbreak of the violent conict in mid-2003 see Section 2.1), stage of the rainy season, resulting in comparable LULC conditions.
showing a marked increase in the size of the settlement. The lower The accuracy assessment is shown in Table 2. Making use of a tra-
right image (Fig. 5c) displays the LULC properties based on the ditional error matrix approach, the overall accuracies were 83% (t0),
image acquired on May 08, 2008 (t0), approximately ve years after 87% (t1) and 81% (t2). The producer's accuracy for the grassland
rst IDPs began to settle in Zam Zam. As was the case for the image category in the 2002 image is clearly relatively low compared to

Table 2
Results of the accuracy assessment.

Class name Producer's accuracy User's accuracy Overall accuracy

2002 2004 2008 2002 2004 2008

Agriculture (cultivated) 94.12% 72.73% 100.00% 80.00%
Agriculture (fallow) 93.75% 100.00% 93.33% 77.27% 87.50% 70.00%
Agriculture (harvested) 80.00% 75.00%
Grassland 53.13% 63.64% 66.67% 77.27% 82.35% 90.00%
Shrubs and trees (single) 100.00% 88.24% 88.89% 55.00% 93.75% 80.00% 2008: 83.00%
Trees (single) 87.50% 100.00% 93.33% 70.00% 93.75% 70.00% 2004: 87.00%
Shrubs and trees (patches) 73.68% 91.67% 73.91% 70.00% 68.75% 85.00% 2002: 81.00%
Water (reservoir) 100.00% 100.00%
Settlement 100.00% 100.00% 93.75% 75.00% 68.75% 75.00%
Bare sand 93.75% 79.17% 95.24% 75.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Wadi (dry) 80.65% 93.33% 86.96% 100.00% 82.35% 100.00%
Wadi (wet) 77.42% 77.27% 80.00% 92.31% 89.47% 80.00%
34 M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

Table 3 increasing population pressure in the area, or (ii) at least partly trace-
Area statistics and LULC changes from 2002 (t2) to 2008 (t0). able back to climate variability (i.e. a change in the start/end of the
Class name Area Area Area LULC change rainy season), a station-based time series of monthly precipitation and
[in ha] [in ha] [in ha] (t2 t0) mean monthly temperature was acquired from the National Oceanic
t2 t1 t0 and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center
[in ha] [in %] (NCDC), for the station at Al-Fashir (approximately 15 km to the north
Agriculture (cultivated) 6.98 175.79 +175.79 of Zam Zam). An analysis of the climate data for the years 2002, 2004,
Agriculture (fallow) 101.31 170.57 159.40 +58.09 +57.34
and 2008 showed clearly that there were only minor differences in
Agriculture (harvested) 100.29 No change
Grassland 593.44 494.46 573.02 20.42 3.44 the start and end of the rainy season between those years and that
Shrubs & trees (single) 40.80 30.92 12.76 28.04 68.73 the observed changes can therefore be traced back to the massive
Trees (single) 9.38 16.72 16.41 +7.03 +74.95 increase in the camp's population over the years. Furthermore, the
Shrubs and trees (patches) 37.87 53.34 24.73 13.14 34.70 study revealed an enormous increase in the number of single trees
Water (reservoir) 0.70 No change
from 2002 to 2008, which could be due to a large number of single
Settlement 84.20 226.89 451.59 +367.39 +436.33
Bare sand 2,144.78 2,041.08 1,830.07 314.71 14.67 shrubs growing into trees over the years, or to additional trees being
Wadi (dry) 1505.34 1076.64 1038.24 467.1 31.03 planted by community members or non-governmental organisations.
Wadi (wet) 1670.56 1972.97 1911.45 +240.89 +14.42 Similar effects were also reported by Sprhnle et al. (2010), who ob-
served a marked increase in tree cover and a widespread decrease in
other wooded vegetation in the vicinity of the Zalingei IDP camp in
western Darfur.

that for other categories and other years, which can be traced back to 3.2.2. Expert-based weighting exercise
spectral confusion between the categories for shrubs and trees (patches) Table 4 lists the results of the expert-based weighting exercise that
and shrubs and trees (single), and resulting misclassications. was conducted to evaluate the relative importance (RI) of the LULC cat-
egories to human security and/or ecosystem integrity in the region.
3.2. LULC changes and Weighted Natural Resource Depletion (NRDw) index According to the experts, water is of very high importance for both
ecosystem integrity (0.9) and human security (1.0), resulting in a
3.2.1. LULC changes very high overall importance (0.965) when the weightings are com-
Because the 2004 image (t1) was taken at an early stage of the bined (HUM & ECO). A high overall importance was also attributed
dry season (in contrast to the 2008 (t0) and 2002 (t2) images), to both cultivated and harvested agricultural areas (0.7125) as a re-
only the changes between 2002 and 2008 were analysed, thus sult of the very high importance of these categories to human security
avoiding the considerable natural variations in both (i) plant phenol- (food and livelihood security) in the region. Comparatively low
ogy and (ii) land use and land cover. The calculated area statistics weightings were assigned to the grassland (0.35) and single shrubs
(Table 3) show that the camp increased dramatically in size as a con- and trees (0.405) categories, as a result of their relatively low impor-
sequence of the violent conict in Darfur that started in mid-2003 tance to both ecosystem integrity and human security.
and resulted in an estimated 2.7 million IDPs in the years from 2003
to 2009 (IDMC, 2011). Moreover, a marked expansion of farming 3.2.3. Weighted Natural Resource Depletion (NRDw) index
areas, especially into fertile wadi soils, took place between 2002 and Fig. 6 shows the RI of the grid cells to (i) human security and ecosys-
2008. As most of the agricultural plots in 2008 were smaller than tem integrity (HUM & ECO), (ii) human security (HUM), and (iii) eco-
one hectare, it can be assumed that the observed expansion in farmland system integrity (ECO) for the time period under consideration (t0, t1,
is likely to have been a result of widespread traditional subsistence t2), based on results from the LULC classications (Fig. 5) and the
farming by many IDPs, as a coping measure to provide a livelihood interview-based weighting exercise (Table 4). Dark red colours reect
and a degree of food security (UNHCR, 2006). At the same time a notice- cells with a very high RI, while bright yellow colours indicate generally
able decrease in shrubs and small trees (both single and patches), as low RI.
well as in grassland, was observed from t2 to t0. As indicated in The impact that the degree of natural resource depletion (NRD) has
Section 1.2, such a degradation of natural resources can lead to tensions on HUM, ECO, or HUM & ECO in the vicinity of Zam Zam IDP camp is
or the outbreak of violent conicts over access to, or control of, scarce displayed in Fig. 7 using a scale from zero to minus one [1 | 0], in
natural resources or, as a nal consequence, it can force people to mi- which 1 reects areas of major impact. Areas in which environmental
grate to other regions when they are no longer able to sustain their live- changes have resulted in improved conditions with respect to human
lihoods. In order to evaluate whether these changes were (i) a result of security (e.g., improved food security through an extension of agricul-
tural land) and/or ecosystem integrity are displayed using a positive
scale from zero to one [>0 | 1].
Although Fig. 7 shows slightly variable results it is clear that, based
Table 4 on the expert weightings, the results can be interpreted as follows:
Results of the expert-based weighting exercise. (i) minor depletion of natural resources (indicated by yellow to light or-
Class name HUM ECO HUM ange colours) occurred over almost all the study area, which could be a
(human (ecosystem & result of the overall decrease in the area of grassland (3.44%) and the
sec.) int.) ECOa number of single shrubs and trees (68.73%); (ii) major depletion (in-
Wstand Wstand Wstand dicated by orange to dark red colours) was observed in smaller areas to
NRDw target classes Agriculture (cultivated) 0.9 0.4 0.7125 the north-east and east of the camp, which can be explained by the large
Agriculture (fallow) 0.7 0.5 0.63 reduction in the numbers of single shrubs and small trees (68.73%),
Agriculture (harvested) 0.9 0.4 0.7125
the area covered by patches of shrubs and trees (34.7%) and the
Grassland 0.3 0.45 0.35
Shrubs and trees (single) 0.4 0.4 0.405 area of grassland (3.44%). At the same time a minor improvement,
Trees (single) 0.65 0.4 0.555 particularly concerning human security, was observed over large
Shrubs and trees (patches) 0.5 0.95 0.665 areas in the wetter parts of the wadi and a major improvement oc-
Water (reservoir) 1 0.9 0.965 curred a few hundred meters to the east of the camp as a result of
HUM & ECO = 0.625 HUM + 0.375 ECO (weights dened by experts). the marked increase in the area under cultivation, together with
M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738 35

Fig. 6. RI of the grid cells (60 m 60 m) to human security and ecosystem integrity (HUM & ECO), human security (HUM) and ecosystem integrity (ECO) for the period under
consideration (t0, t1, t2) based on expert weightings.

an increase in the number of single trees. A comparison of the num- 4. Conclusions

ber of grid cells in each of the NRDw categories (Fig. 7), however,
clearly reveals that approximately 45% of the 17,292 cells had expe- 4.1. General achievements
rienced some degree of depletion of natural resources between June
2002 and May 2008. Compared to that roughly 26% of all grid cells In the process of achieving the objective of this paper, our research
are showing an improvement, while around 28% of the cells did has investigated the relationship between the increasing IDP popula-
not show any change. tion in the Zam Zam camp (as a result of persistent instability and the
36 M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738

Fig. 7. Implications of observed environmental changes for human security (HUM), ecosystem integrity (ECO) or a combination of both (HUM & ECO), based on expert weightings
(modied from Hagenlocher, 2011).

violent conict in Darfur) and natural resource depletion in the sur- 4.2. Remaining challenges
rounding area. In this context, time series of VHR optical satellite
imagery was shown to be a valuable data source for such ex-post en- It became clear during this research that images for multi-
vironmental assessments, particularly for assessments in remote and/ temporal analysis should ideally be acquired at more or less the
or conict-torn regions; it was able to reveal a clear link between in- same time of year, in order to minimise differences in plant phenolo-
creasing camp population and natural resource depletion in the vicin- gy, farming activities, etc., since such differences not only complicate
ity of the camp. Moreover, it was exemplarily shown that integrated the interpretation of observable environmental changes, but also re-
spatial indicators, and in particular the integration of expert knowl- duce the transferability of the rule-base from one image to another.
edge, not only enables the identication of natural resource depletion It is, however, at present difcult to obtain seasonally comparable
and visualisation of the extent of this depletion, but also allows the VHR images from the archives for use in, for example, ex-post analy-
resulting consequences for human security (i.e. food and livelihood ses on refugee or IDP camps. The tasking of new imagery is not usual-
security) and/or ecosystem integrity (i.e. intactness of the state of ly the problem (although it is still expensive), but the availability of
the ecosystem, etc.) in a given area to be evaluated. Integrating archived images for remote regions is often limited. This situation is
knowledge and experience of two key regional experts from different expected to improve in the future due to the increasing number of
domains is considered sufcient to demonstrate the proof of concept. VHR commercial satellites and the resulting improvements (spatial
For operational applications a larger number of key regional, national and temporal) in coverage, including remote areas. Moreover, when
and local experts from different domains and backgrounds (academics, relying solely on optical remote sensing technology, it was not feasi-
practitioners, etc.) should be integrated into the weighting exercise in ble to assess additional environmental stressors, such as water pollu-
order to achieve a better overall interpretability of the nal results. Due tion or pollution due to the daily operation of a camp, that lead to the
to the difcult political situation in Sudan, however, our attempts to con- accumulation of toxic residues in soils and water, etc. Although be-
sult more national and local domain experts were not successful. yond the scope of this research, it might be benecial in future to ex-
Reporting such integrated indicators on a continuous grid level (here plore the applicability of available microwave data (e.g. SAR data) for
60 m * 60 m) allows conditioned (i.e. policy-oriented) information to such environmental impact assessments, since not only is it to some
be provided in a standardised way, in order to support crisis and IDP or degree independent of weather and illumination, but it also supple-
refugee camp management. As the grid cells are exible and their size ments optical data with physical surface properties such as surface
can be easily adjusted, if required, the underlying ne-scaled analysis roughness, soil moisture, etc. Moreover, the high temporal resolution
can be re-aggregated to match any desired reporting unit. of currently available SAR sensors (e.g., TerraSAR-X: every 11 days)
The approach presented in this paper shows considerable poten- enables continuous monitoring of highly dynamic IDP or refugee
tial as a support tool for decision-making processes across a variety camps and associated changes to their surroundings, which can not at
of scales in targeted crisis management situations that could range present be achieved with any certainty through optical remote sensing
from monitoring and evaluating the environmental impacts of IDP sensors. An assessment of the viability of using SAR data for these pur-
or refugee camps, urban slums, etc., to observing natural resource poses is seen as a worthwhile subject for future investigation.
depletion caused by the use of unsustainable agricultural practices,
etc. However, if this approach is transferred to a different region, a Acknowledgements
different application eld, or a different scale, both the rule-sets for
object-based class modelling and the expert weightings will need to This work has been partly funded by the European Commission (EC)
be adapted accordingly. The transferability of the approach is currently within the FP-7 G-MOSAIC project (GMES Services for Management of
being tested on a refugee camp in Goz Beida, Chad with preliminary Operations, Situation Awareness and Intelligence for Regional Crises,
results expected to be published later in 2012. contract no. 218822) and by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through
M. Hagenlocher et al. / Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 2738 37

the Doctoral College GIScience (DK W 1237-N23). The authors would Kranz, O., Lang, S., Tiede, D., Zeug, G., Kemper, T., Caspard, M., et al. (2010). GMES ser-
vices for conict prevention and mitigation: Support the DG RELEX in mission
also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for the constructive and planning. Geographic Information and Cartography for Risk and Crisis Management:
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