Land use monitoring in the Nigerian savanna using aerial photographs

  • Neil J. Field

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Aerial photography was used to determine the land use in a test area of the Nigerian savanna in 1950 and 1972. Changes in land use were determined and correlated with accessibility, appropriate low technology methods being used to make it easy to extend the investigation to other areas without incurring great expense. A test area of 750 sq km was chosen located in Kaduna State of Nigeria. The geography of the area is summarised together with the local knowledge which is essential for accurate photo interpretation. A land use classification was devised and tested for use with medium scale aerial photography of the savanna. The two sets of aerial photography at 1:25 000 scale were sampled using systematic dot grids. A dot density of 8 1/2 dots per sq km was calculated to give an acceptable estimate of land use. Problems of interpretation included gradation between categories, sample position uncertainty and personal bias. The results showed that in 22 years the amount of cultivated land in the test area had doubled while there had been a corresponding decrease in the amount of uncultivated land particularly woodland. The intensity of land use had generally increased. The distribution of land use changes was analysed and correlated with accessibility. Highly significant correlations were found for 1972 which had not existed in 1950. Changes in land use could also be correlated with accessibility. It was concluded that in the 22 year test period there had been intensification of land use, movement of human activity towards the main road, and a decrease in natural vegetation particularly close to the road. The classification of land use and the dot grid method of survey were shown to be applicable to a savanna test area.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • Nigerian
  • savanna
  • landuse
  • aerial photographs

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