DGES Masters student studies wetlands and livelihoods in the Nile Basin

Pierre Dubeau, Carleton Geography and Environmental Studies MSc student, uses high tech remote sensing imagery and community-based field work to examine the environmental and socio-economic importance of wetlands for Ethiopian’s rural society

Pierre Dubeau is conducting his Masters research on the role and importance of key wetlands in the Ethiopian Highlands, which are part of the Nile Basin.  In this project, he is engaging with wetland ecologists at Addis Ababa University, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and local community members to map wetland vegetation and seasonal dynamics in relation to the agricultural land use needs of the local communities. 

Pierre 1

Pierre 2

Mr. Wakane, a local member of the community (left), working with Pierre Dubeau (right), both wading deep in emergent grassland. Photo taken during the wet season, August 2012.

Wetlands play a vital role in maintaining access to water and pastoral lands for the large rural population in Ethiopia.  Portions of the wetlands support vast areas of grasslands, which are extensively grazed during the dry season.  However, there is very little geo-spatial information describing their size, distribution, and seasonal dynamics. Pierre’s MSc research will use remote sensing technologies to provide up-to-date spatial and temporal information about the wetlands and their catchment basins, which can aid local wetland land use management practices and broader water resources management of the Nile Basin. 

Intense grazing after burning of wetlands.  These wetlands are dominated by emergent grass during the wet season, March 2012.

Intense grazing after burning of wetlands. These wetlands are dominated by emergent grass during the wet season, March 2012.

Consultation with local community members involved in wetland survey, March 2012.

Consultation with local community members involved in wetland survey, March 2012.

His project is supervised by Doug King, co-director of Carleton’s Geomatics and Landscape Ecology, and supported by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) through IWMI.  Radar and visible-near infrared satellite images of the wetlands were acquired using this support under the Wetland Theme of the JAXA’s Advanced Land Observing System (ALOS) Kyoto Carbon Initiative.

Since 2009, Pierre has returned to Ethiopia every year to carry out field research to gain an understanding of the wetland ecology and the socio-economic importance of the wetlands. The field work engages local community members and includes field mapping for validation of the wetland maps derived from the remotely sensed imagery. Pierre believes that engagement with the community, dissemination of his up-to-date wetland maps, and demonstration that this information can be produced in the future at low cost by local government agencies will help improve the conservation and management of wetlands that are under extreme pressure from human development.

Local guides helping Pierre during the rainy season, July 2010

Local guides helping Pierre during the rainy season, July 2010

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2 Responses to DGES Masters student studies wetlands and livelihoods in the Nile Basin

  1. Mario Rojas says:

    There’s still much to discover in Ethiopia.

  2. Susana says:

    I read this article fully about the resemblance of newest and earlier technologies, it’s amazing article.

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