Environmental Impact

The impact of refugee/IDP camps on the environment is monitored and assessed using multi-temporal satellite images.
The implications of environmental change on human well-being (i.e., food and livelihood security) and ecological integrity (i.e., state of ecosystems) is being evaluated.


What for?

Evidence has shown that the sudden influx of large numbers of refugees or IDPs into an area can place severe pressure on the local environment, its carrying capacity and existing natural resources. Severe deforestation, due to fire-wood shortages in dry-land camp areas, desertification, land degradation, unsustainable groundwater extraction, and groundwater pollution are impacts that can be observed in the surroundings of many refugee/IDP camps.


Data and Methods

Data: multi-temporal VHR satellite data, HR satellite data (RapidEye, Landsat)

While environmental changes are recognized as an important factor for the wellbeing of the population, they are so far not systematically monitored. We are developing a methodology to fill this information gap based on remote sensing data. The most important features to observe are forests and woody vegetation suitable for construction and firewood, the area used for agriculture and grazing, and the settlement area itself. But also small scale pits, where clay for brick making is produced, should be monitored, as well as single trees within the camp itself. This requires an adapted choice of imagery with high and very high resolution from the adequate seasons, and a set of analysis tools, including spectral pre-classification and object-based image analysis (OBIA).



Change of vegetation cover
This is the basic product to rapidly provide an overview of the most important change of land cover, which is the change from a vegetated to non-vegetated area. Due to its simplicity, it can be rapidly produced and easily apprehended by the user. The growth of the settling area and fire clearing of forests is clearly visible in these maps. The dynamics of agricultural activities can also be monitored with this product, if the satellite images have been taken after the harvest, when fields occur as bare soil.


Change of land cover classes
This product details the environmental changes as shifts between different land cover classes, such as a transition from forests to grazing areas or from bare soil to agricultural fields. These analyses employ object-based image analysis.

Weighted Natural Resource Depletion Index (NRDw)
This map product summarizes and weights the changes of land cover classes for their impact on the ecosystem integrity and the human wellbeing. The weighting will be based on the assessment of local experts and has to be tailored to each camp specifically.