Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Darrell Napton


anthropogenic impact, Côte d’Ivoire, deforestation, driving forces, forest degradation, land cover change


Tropical forests mitigate climate change, provide habitat for the most biologically diverse terrestrial communities, and yield ecosystem services that support human wellbeing. These forests are some of the most threatened ecosystems because of the increasing human impact on the environment. Côte d’Ivoire has one of the highest deforestation rates in sub-Saharan Africa, and the expansion of agriculture to produce cash crops, such as cocoa and rubber, is presented as the primary reason for forest loss. These changes are apparent even within the boundaries of the protected areas, which raises concerns about the effectiveness of the protection strategies. This project illustrates land cover changes on a local level that are associated with tropical forest decline within and outside the Mabi-Yaya-Songan-Tamin protected area complex in southeastern Côte d’Ivoire. To provide a context to local land cover changes, this thesis assesses the contribution of anthropogenic driving forces that led to forest degradation and deforestation. Land cover changes were quantified using the ArcMap add-in Rapid Land Cover Mapper for visual interpretation of the landscape and land cover classification of Landsat images for three study years: 1986, 1999, and 2017. Proximate and underlying driving forces of forest decline in reserved forests of Côte d’Ivoire were evaluated based on scientific literature, news articles, government documents, and reports prepared by non-governmental organizations. The main findings revealed that forest degradation was the primary type of land cover change inside the reserves. The conversion was likely associated with multiple driving forces including the expansion of agriculture and forest exploitation for wood. Some of the most important underlying causes of forest decline in Côte d’Ivoire included institutional instability, population growth in the immediate surrounding of the forest reserves, migration patterns, demands for agricultural commodities, fluctuations of the trade markets, energy insecurity, lack of compliance to environmental law, and the absence of large-scale technological innovations to improve yields. Although the Mabi-Yaya reserve was generally better preserved than the Songan- Tamin reserve, it is unlikely that conservation practices helped to improve its resilience to human pressure.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Land cover -- Côte d'Ivoire.
Land use -- Côte d'Ivoire.
Rain forest ecology -- Côte d'Ivoire.
Rain forests -- Côte d'Ivoire -- Case studies.
Forest reserves -- Côte d'Ivoire -- Case studies.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright