Violent Conflict and Land Cover Change in the North Kivu Province of the DRC

Authors: Sofia McCarthy*,
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: DRC, North Kivu, Conflict, Landcover, Change, GIS
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an ecologically rich country that has experienced extreme conflict since its decolonization, particularly in the eastern province of North Kivu. In past years, many factors such as conflict have threatened to increase deforestation. North Kivu’s position as a border province has made it especially vulnerable to conflict. The DRC also has the most intact forests in Africa, home to one of the largest carbon reserves in the world (Gillian et al., 2015). The impact of conflict on the environment in the DRC has not been well documented; however, existing research shows that conflict can cause an increase of human pressure on forests but also decrease pressure by bringing the logging business to a halt (Dirk and Van Krundelsven, 2002; Dudley et al., 2002). This study investigates if there is a relationship between conflict and forest cover in the North Kivu province from 1965 to present day. I will address this question using temporal analysis of major conflict events from literature review, historical land use data acquired from NOAA’s Climatic Data Center, and classified Landsat ETM+ land cover imagery. Land cover change analysis using GIS will be done for forest cover before and after major events of conflict to analyze the potential effects that conflict has on forest cover in North Kivu. Preliminary results show that forest cover has not changed significantly around years of conflict; GIS analysis is difficult in a place such as DRC where conflict has made regular data collection unreliable.

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