Regional climate sensitivity of wetland environments in Rwanda: the need for a location - specific approach

E. Nyandwi, A. Veldkamp, S. Amer

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Wetlands are sustaining large communities of people in Rwanda where 10 % of its land surface consists of many local wetlands. Sustainable future management of these numerous wetlands requires a reliable inventory of their location and a dynamic quantitative characterization that allows assessment of their climate change sensitivity. The aim of this study was to assess the importance of climatic factors for determining wetland location at different regional scales. Wetland locations were analyzed and statistically modeled using their location factors with logistic regression. Wetland location probability was determined using topographic (elevation, slope), hydrological (contributing area) and climatic (temperature and rainfall) location factors. A wetland location probability map was made that demonstrated a calibration accuracy of 87.9 % correct at national level compared to an existing inventory, displaying even better fits at subnational level (reaching up to 98 % correct). A validation accuracy of 86.2 % was obtained using an independently collected dataset. A sensitivity analysis was applied to the threshold values used as cutoff value between wetland/non-wetland, demonstrating a robust performance. The developed models were used in a sensitivity scenario analysis to assess future wetland location probability to changes in temperature and rainfall. In particular, wetlands in the central regions of Rwanda demonstrate a high sensitivity to changes in temperature (1 % increase causes a net probable wetland area decline by 12.4 %) and rainfall (+1 % causes a net increase by 1.6 %). This potentially significant impact on wetland number and location probability indicates that climate-sensitive future planning of wetland use is required in Rwanda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1635-1647
Number of pages13
JournalRegional environmental change
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2016


  • METIS-313892
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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