Dr. Jane Goodall with orphan chimpanzee Uruhara at the JGI Sweetwaters Sanctuary for orphan chimpanzees in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Michael Neugebauer.

Land Use Planning in Tanzania

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Chimpanzee Conservation

Lilian Pintea
Director of Conservation Science
Africa Programs
The Jane Goodall Institute
Arlington, Va.

More than 45 years ago, Dr. Jane Goodall started her pioneering research on chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. In her first year, she made landmark discoveries — that chimpanzees made and used tools to “fish for termites,” and that they hunted and shared meat. On hearing of Jane’s discoveries, Dr. Louis Leakey, a renowned paleontologist and anthropologist, said: “Now we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man,’ or accept chimpanzees as humans.”

Today the long-term study at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) Gombe Stream Research Center continues to provide invaluable data on the lives of the primates who are so like us. The data are digitized, managed and analyzed at JGI’s Center for Primate Studies at the University of Minnesota, and awareness of this long-term study is widespread. Despite the attention of the world, Gombe’s chimpanzee population continues to decline and is under severe threat from disease and from the loss of habitat outside the park.

In 2002 we reported on the first applications of remote sensing methods to chimpanzee research and conservation at Gombe (Imaging Notes, Winter 2002-03). Since then, JGI has continued to acquire and analyze satellite data, more recently with better spatial and temporal resolution. Currently the Gombe geospatial database integrates more than 300,000 chimpanzee observations with remote sensing data acquired between 1947 and 2005, including imagery from IKONOS and QuickBird satellites. The remote sensing dataset has been used in a variety of applications such as chimpanzee behaviour research1, 2 and the development of Tanzania National Parks’ (TANAPA) Gombe National Park General Management Plan.3 Now it is supporting a five-year project in which JGI will partner with local communities, other NGOs, and donors to better link conservation and rural development objectives in the region.

Greater Gombe Ecosystem Project

The current vision for conservation of Gombe chimpanzees extends beyond the boundary of the park. It focuses on ecological processes in the larger Greater Gombe Ecosystem and it takes into account the social and economic realities of people whose livelihoods depend on the local natural resources. Located north of the town of Kigoma in western Tanzania, the Greater Gombe Ecosystem includes the 35-square-kilometer Gombe National Park and a surrounding area of about 200 square kilometers on the eastern boundary of the park, stretching northwards towards the Burundi border. With funds from U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) and the Annenberg Foundation, JGI and its partners have just embarked on a five-year project to protect globally important biodiversity, with an emphasis on Gombe chimpanzees, through a livelihood-driven approach. The project will adopt The Nature Conservancy’s integrated Conservation Action Plan (CAP) process to keep the focus on conservation goals, to identify effective conservation strategies and to plan, implement, and measure conservation success (http://conserveonline. org/workspaces/cap). It will also facilitate the development of participatory village land use plans (required by Tanzanian law) in 13 villages adjacent to the park.

One of the important outputs of the conservation and participatory land-use planning processes will be the identifi cation, restoration and protection of patches of forest and woodlands in areas important for Gombe chimpanzees. This village forest reserve was established by the local community with assistance from TACARE (Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education), JGI’s community-centered conservation project working in the region since 1994 (see Figures 1 and 2). The Greater Gombe Ecosystem project will encourage the of- fi cial designation of more such village forest reserves and support their active protection through the adoption of enforceable village by-laws and through monitoring using satellite imagery, GIS and ground GPS surveys.

Finally, the project will use TACARE’s 12 years of experience in the region as a platform for promoting improved agricultural and forestry practices, providing micro-fi nance services, initiating community- based ecotourism enterprises, and improving social infrastructure to better provide for community health, sanitation and hygiene needs.


Using the existing geospatial database as a starting point, more detailed analysis is under way to develop a full inventory of forest resources and human land uses in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem. In collaboration with JGI, some of the mapping of natural and man-made features located within the project area is being performed by William Whatley, vice-president of the Colorado Springs-based company Native Communities Development Corporation (NCDC). NCDC’s Satellite Imaging and Mapping Division has developed an integrated mapping system that maximizes the power of DigitalGlobe’s sub-meter QuickBird satellite imagery. The system allows for the rapid identifi cation, mapping, measurement, and assessment of natural and man-made features across landscapes ranging from one to many thousands of square miles.

This proprietary system employs object-oriented machine learning software in conjunction with NCDC-designed algorithms and “target identification models” to achieve recognition of unique patterns or “features” that exist within the satellite imagery, including integrated combinations of point, line and polygon data. The system incorporates spatial context, reflective spectral data, textural patterns and enhanced color attributes in the automated feature extraction process. It also examines potential patterns from two important perspectives: pattern variability within known delineated targets that have been input by the analyst (training samples), and adjacent patterns that surround the delineated training targets. This examining of patterns creates an automated process for distinguishing significant data from that which is insignificant.

To further the accuracy, a series of iterations is initially run with each iteration requiring corrective inputs by the analyst and other resource specialists. This operation is similar to the concept of “teaching a computer how to play chess,” with each iteration gaining more and more accuracy.

When combined with the input of ground-verified control and training samples, NCDC’s iterative analytical process can accurately map features across wide geographical areas in a fast and cost-effective manner. As a result, NCDC’s state-of-the-art remote sensing and mapping system provides an ideal solution for land-use planning, including baseline resource inventories, forest composition analyses, habitat delineation, wildfire risk assessments, emergency response planning and invasive species detection.

Figure 3 shows a 0.6-m color infrared composite of QuickBird image acquired on June 5, 2005, of the Gombe National Park using NCDC’s methodology with man-made structures identified inside and outside the park.

When combined with multi-temporal imagery, such data could help track land use change and could monitor in detail existing and new sources of stress to chimpanzees and the park. For example, the images in Figure 4 showing the sub-village of Kazinga suggest an increase in population pressure on Gombe with new houses built within just 100 meters of the park. (Note that the differences in vegetation within the park are due to seasonal variations in leaf-on leaf-off conditions of miombo woodlands).

Figure 5 shows a section of the Mgaraganza village located on the southeastern boundary of Gombe National Park, along with the oil palms, structures and road features. Oil palms are the main cash crop in the region. However, conversion to oil palm plantations is one of the major threats to riverine forests, a critical habitat for chimpanzee survival. The detailed maps of the distribution of oil palm will help JGI and its partners to encourage development of oil palm in areas less important for chimpanzees and to restore critical habitat in areas with maximum conservation benefits.

Finally, the high-resolution satellite imagery is interpreted with assistance from local communities. Local names of the mountains, streams, scattered settlements and other landscape features are virtually missing from existing mapping records. A participatory mapping methodology has been successfully tested by the TACARE Project in five villages adjacent to the park. The methodology uses satellite imagery to record local perspectives and knowledge of landscapes and land uses and values.

Local people have limited experience in reading maps but were able easily to recognize geographic features on 1-m IKONOS satellite imagery prints at a 1:7000 scale. Villagers were able to relate to locations on the ground and “travel mentally” on the imagery to locate other land features (see Figure 6). They were able to map village boundary markers such as trees, stones, small streams, forest patches, paths and bridges; fields of oil palm, banana and cassava; and worship places such as churches, mosques and even traditional belief places. For example, a small island that is a spiritual place was successfully identified by villagers on IKONOS satellite imagery (see small white spot in lake, far left, Figure 1).

For the first time, baseline geospatial data will be available for rural communities, NGO’s and the government institutions in Kigoma region. The data can be of enormous help not only to support conservation and land use efforts but also to assist with other rural development objectives such as improving human health and access to clean water. For example, Figure 7 shows the impact of a flash flood in Mtanga village. Because of deforestation on steep slopes, important ecosystem services have been lost with direct negative impacts to people’s lives. The 2001 flash flood resulted in dozens of deaths and the destruction of dozens of homes.

Dr. Jane Goodall and Lilian Pintea shared this work at the ESRI User Conference in July 2005. A DVD of that presentation is available at: store.esri.com (search for “Jane Goodall”). Proceeds of DVD sales go to the Jane Goodall Institute. Become a member of JGI at www.janegoodall.org.
Building geospatial capacity in Tanzania will be an important cross-cutting theme of the Greater Gombe Ecosystem project. With help from ESRI, JGI will support GIS implementation in JGI-Tanzania and TANAPA Gombe National Park offices for baseline data collection, reporting, program monitoring and evaluation. Relevant and credible to local institutions, such information will have a good chance of contributing toward the development and implementation of new and more effective conservation strategies in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem.




  1. Pintea, L. 2006. (In prep) Applying satellite imagery and GIS for chimpanzee habitat analysis and conservation. Ph.D. thesis, University of Minnesota.
  2. Gilby, I.C., L.E. Eberly, L. Pintea, A.E. Pusey, 2006. (In press) Ecological and social influences on the hunting behaviour of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). Animal Behaviour.
  3. Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). 2005. Gombe National Park General Management Plan 2005-2015.


We are grateful to DigitalGlobe for providing QuickBird imagery in partnership with ESRI, to MDA Federal Inc. for the NaturalVue product, to Trimble for GPS hardware and to GeoEye for IKONOS data. A special thanks to the TACARE participatory mapping team: S. Bagambi, J. Ishabakaki, A. Kashula, A. Kingu, S. Lumelezi, M. Sanze and people from Bubango, Bugamba, Kalinzi, Mgaraganza, Mtanga and Mwamgongo villages for sharing their knowledge of the landscapes. We thank the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) for permission to continue the on-going research at Gombe.

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