Assessment of Habitat Change Processes within the Oti-Keran-Mandouri Network of Protected Areas in Togo (West Africa) from 1987 to 2013 Using Decision Tree Analysis (Version 2, Approved)
|Reviewer 1 Javier Martínez-Vega CSIC||Reviewer 2 Jesús Jiménez López Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE)|
Approved with revisions
Approved with revisions
Polo-Akpisso, A.; Wala, K.; Soulemane, O.; Folega, F.; Akpagana, K.; Tano, Y. Assessment of Habitat Change Processes within the Oti-Keran-Mandouri Network of Protected Areas in Togo (West Africa) from 1987 to 2013 Using Decision Tree Analysis. Sci 2020, 2, 1.
Polo-Akpisso A, Wala K, Soulemane O, Folega F, Akpagana K, Tano Y. Assessment of Habitat Change Processes within the Oti-Keran-Mandouri Network of Protected Areas in Togo (West Africa) from 1987 to 2013 Using Decision Tree Analysis. Sci. 2020; 2(1):1.Chicago/Turabian Style
Polo-Akpisso, Aniko; Wala, Kperkouma; Soulemane, Ouattara; Folega, Fousseni; Akpagana, Koffi; Tano, Yao. 2020. "Assessment of Habitat Change Processes within the Oti-Keran-Mandouri Network of Protected Areas in Togo (West Africa) from 1987 to 2013 Using Decision Tree Analysis." Sci 2, no. 1: 1.
Article Access Statistics
In general terms, the research is very well developed. I think that this article has a great interest to be published in Sci, considering that this journal covers all research fields and that it welcomes case studies.
The manuscript describes the land uses-land cover changes that occurred in the Oti-Keran-Mandouri protected areas, in Togo, during the last 25 years. Despite having different figures of national and international protection (national park, Ramsar wetlands), this fragile region has been subject to environmentally worrisome dynamics, as result of demographic pressure and climate change. Using Landsat images from 1987, 2000 and 2013, the authors analyze the nature of land use-land cover changes, the habitat change processes and their consequences on landscape structure. The reduction of forest and savanna habitats and the fragmentation of wetlands are the most relevant processes. According to the results, the authors propose biodiversity conservation actions to those responsible for their management.
The contents are organized into the usual sections. The contents of each section are correct and follow a logical sequence. The references are abundant and valid, although some are old, especially those related to the “methods” section.
Although the methods, in themselves, are not original, they are correct and designed to solve a specific environmental challenge as well as to help managers. They are solidly supported by previous scientific studies. The "assessment of habitat change processes" subsection is very clear and interesting.
The results derive from the application of the techniques used. Will be very useful to the managers of the protected areas in the planning and decision-making processes. In the first reading, an explanation of what are the driving factors of land use-land cover changes and habitats is missing. However, after reading the "discussion" section, it is clear what are the factors that explain the processes that have occurred and are contextualized in the African continent and on a global scale.
The discussion section adequately complements the results. It is very complete and well documented.
Despite their interest, a minor revision is convenient to improve some formal and content aspects of the manuscript. Below, the following suggestions are proposed:
I recommend harmonizing the color of the savanna class in figure 4. The shade of green used in land cover map 1987 does not seem similar to the one used in the other two maps and in the legend. Also if possible, I suggest using some simplified cartographic base as the background of the tree maps.
The temporal evolution of the surface of settlements is surprising (figure 5). Usually, it is a temporarily irreversible category. In the discussion, the authors already explain the difficulty of discriminating this category with crops and, sometimes, with the savanna. However, perhaps, the authors can place more emphasis on this issue.
On page 9, the first paragraph ("The net change in each land category ...") is confusing. According to Pontius et al. (2004), the net change = gains-losses. In addition, the authors indicate that the results of the net change are reported in table 4. It is not correct. This table contains the image classification accuracy (p.7).
On line 8 on page 9, the annual average rate (285.39%) seems very high. I suggest reviewing the data.
At the end of line 9 of section 4.2 Land Cover Dynamics, I suggest adding the Dudley et al., 2018 reference: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00424
In reference no. 4 (Karr 1994), replace "Landscale" with "Landscapes
Response to Reviewer 1Sent on 11 Jul 2020 by Aniko Polo-Akpisso, Kperkouma Wala, Ouattara Soulemane, Fousseni Folega, Koffi Akpagana, Yao Tano
Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE)
The manuscript aims to describe and quantify the land cover dynamics and habitat change processes occurring at the OKM Network of Protected Areas, using satellite based land cover maps gathered in different periods of time. The sequential application of well-established remote sensing methodologies reveals that the region is experience an important degradation of their natural values (forests, savannas, and wetlands), especially due to agricultural expansion and the increasing impact of human settlements. Most spatial processes underlying the habitat changes occurring in the region were dissected using a decision tree and cross tabulation analysis, as described in the body of the research.
The manuscript provides an essential base line for land change dynamics within the OKM Protected Areas that can be used to foster effective management and target appropriate conservation actions.
Please find below suggestions that complement other reviewers’ comments and you might find useful to improve the overall quality of the manuscript.
Figure 1. Study area
I recommend working on the map in case you have the required data. The title (“Legend”) does not give any particular information and could be safety removed. Instead “Some localities”, use localities or something similar. Also, notice that while some layers are grouped by categories, other not related layers are mixed in between. I suggest making this separation clearer including an additional category (protected areas? ) or alternatively just remove the categories keeping the legend simpler. The mapping area is somewhat confusing. A careful selection of symbols, colors and patterns might help to better depict the study area. Also, the composition / layout could be improved. For instance, auxiliary maps could be positioned above the main map, so there’s more room to arrange everything. Keep an eye on your fonts, there’s room enough to position “BENIN” and “GHANA” horizontally. Also, choose font style wisely. I recommend you to check other similar maps on Internet.
Y-axis label should be number of patches
Landsat images of 30-m spatial resolution acquired in 1987, 2000, and 2013 were downloaded for free (from where?). You might want to include the source or platform from where you get the images.
I suggest rephrasing the following sentence and briefly explain or cite the purpose of the reference data (e.g. interpretation, classification, validation…)
The reference data have been generated differently for each image. They were based on ground verification data for the recent image, while they were generated from the national topographic map..
You might find interesting to include the following output:
The output is a map where each land cover class is assigned the category of change that it is experiencing.
Also, I suggest that you plot or include in tabular form the most important change processes affecting each land category if possible, and not just the most predominant. This information can help determining what’s happening where and when.
The following sentence in the conclusion section is confusing to me, in the sense that it seems to indicate that climate change adaptation strategies are causing the degradation of these natural areas. Maybe I am missing something, but if that is the case, you should explain why.
The degradation has worsened due to implemented adaptation strategies to climate change that are mostly linked to land use change, such as recessional agriculture.