04-Mar-2010 -- We are a research team from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission on a field trip in Senegal together with our Senegalese partner, the Institut des Sciences de l'Environnement (ISE), Laboratoire d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Géomatique (LERG), Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique (ESP)/FST, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), Sénégal. One of our research activities is to assess land cover changes over time using Earth observing satellite images. During this field mission we were comparing the information as derived from the satellite images with the current situation on the ground. We have done similar field missions in Kenya and Ethiopia last year (see 0 38E, 7N 39E). The method is based on a systematic sampling approach where at each intersection of the 1-degree lines of latitude and longitude a sample will be located. The standard sample size is taken as 20*20 km around each intersection of the 1-degree lines of latitude and longitude. The Degree Confluence Project and its information is therefore very useful to this study.
Some of the sample sites we validated had already visited confluence points, some others had not been visited, but were even for us too difficult and/or time consuming to reach.
The confluence point 16N 14W was one of the 10 sample areas we wanted to visit during this field trip. It was lying on our way from the Boundou community based reserve around Koussane towards Richard Toll. We were driving on the main road which is generally good apart from the usual pot-holes. From Pété onwards it was off-road, following at the beginning some tracks, but then driving just straight towards the confluence point. We were using our satellite images and, of course, the GPS to navigate. We could drive spot-on the confluence point.
This area of Senegal is quite dry and sparsely vegetated. Open to very open grasslands with a few small trees or shrubs is the usual picture. To our surprise the area around the confluence point looked quite different, a beautiful and quite dense grass-savanna type of landscape with open trees. It reminds more of some areas in Kenya. March is the dry season.
After the mandatory photos and a happy confluence point hunter team, we continued towards Richard Toll, before driving back to Dakar via Saint Louis.