Land cover dynamics in the context of conflict and fire – A case study of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Environmental dimensions of conflict are becoming increasingly relevant to the research community, and yet there is much we do not know about how conflicts and other crises affect the biophysical environment. Previous research has shown various effects of conflict on land systems, including increased land use activity, damages, as well as (unintended) protective effects. In this case we look into the recent conflict in Iraq and its effects on land use and land cover in the Kurdistan Region, northern Iraq.
According to media reports, land cover in this region has been affected by three main changes since 2014. Firstly, (1) the war on the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/Daesh) focused manpower on protecting the borders, leading to less protection of natural areas. Additionally, (2) fuel shortages in Iraq has led to increases in illegal logging for heating homes during wintertime. Furthermore, (3), there has been an increase in forest fires since 2015, reportedly linked to conflict events (e.g. through bombings).
Against this background, we study the Land Use/Land Cover changes in KR-I over the past 20 years and specifically identify changes in cropland and other vegetation during the conflict period (2014-2017). Furthermore, we investigate how these changes relate spatially and temporally to incidents of conflict and fire. Preliminary findings show an increase in vegetated areas during the conflict period, mainly in cropland areas but also in other vegetation types. Both conflict events and fires have increased since 2014 and follow a similar pattern, but no obvious links to land cover changes can be seen.
This seminar will be given online using Zoom: