Cheikh Mbow

Cheikh Mbow

Department of Forestry

Adjunct Associate Professor, Environmental Science

1440 G Street Northwest
DC 20005, USA

Current Position(s)

Executive Director, International START Secretariat,

Phone: +1 202 462 2213 (work);



  • Ph.D. (d’Etat), (2009). Cheikh Anta Diop University and University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Carbon stocks dynamics of tropical savannas.
  • Ph.D. (3e Cycle) (2000). Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal, Remote sensing and environmental science.
  • M.S. (1995). Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal, Physical geography.

Research Interests

  • Remote Sensing and GIS, Sustainability challenges, transdisciplinary, Agroforestry
  • Disturbances of savanna vegetative systems, particularly the impact of bush fires and other land cover changes in rural areas.
  • Climate change and above-ground carbon stock assessments, vegetation inventory the use for carbon models, and the monitoring of vegetative communities.
  • Tropical savanna woodland ecosystems fire dynamics and climate change effects on carbon storage and fluxes.


Dr. Cheikh Mbow is currently the Executive Director of START-International in Washington DC. He served for a decade as Associate Professor on remote sensing-GIS and climate change at the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Science Faculty; and Laboratoire d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Géomatique (LERG), Polytechnic Faculty of the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD), where he was leading the research team called CAREX (Climate Change, Adaptation and Environmental Risks). With more than 120 publications on various environmental sustainability fields, Mbow has proven transdisciplinary skills and expertise on land use, disturbances of natural vegetative systems and sustainability of agricultural systems. He has experience with knowledge brokering and translation of scientific information to decision makers and ability to work with a range of stakeholders from local communities to high level states leaders. He coordinated the GOFC-GOLD Regional Network for West Africa (WARN) and worked in several regional programs such as AFRICANESS, AMMA (FP6), UNDESERT (FP7) projects, for the Global Atlas of the convention on Desertification, the GBO3 and for OSS. Dr. Cheikh Mbow has been a Senior Scientist (Team Leader) on Climate Change and Development at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He has been a Lead Author for the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) chapter in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, and Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services-IPBES. Prof Mbow is now a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Special Report on Food Security. He served in many Scientific Committees such as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program-IGBP from 2012-2014, Future Earth (2013-2015); and the for the International Scientific Meeting in Paris Our Common Future under Climate Change (2014-2015) and Contributing Author for the UN-Global Sustainable Development Report 2016 (Chap 5). Cheikh served as reviewer in various IPCC and GEO/AEO assessment rapports.


Recent Selected Publications

-          Mbow, C., C. Rosenzweig, L.G. Barioni, T.G. Benton, M. Herrero, M. Krishnapillai, E. Liwenga, P. Pradhan, M.G. Rivera-Ferre, T. Sapkota, F.N. Tubiello, Y. Xu, 2019: Food Security. In: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)]. In press.

-          C. Mbow, Future Africa at University of Pretoria, South Africa and Michigan State University, USA; E. Toensmeier, Perennial Agriculture Institute, USA; M. Brandt, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; D. Skole, Michigan State University, USA; M. Dieng, Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA), Senegal; D. Garrity, World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya; and B. Poulter, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA, 2019: Agroforestry as a solution for multiple climate change challenges in Africa.

-          Mbow C., Nielsen T.T., Rasmussen K. 2000. Savanna fires in East-Central Senegal: distribution patterns, resource management and perceptions. Human Ecology, Kluver Academic Publishers, New York.28 (4): 561-583.

-          Mbow, C., Goïta, K., Bénié G. 2004. Spectral indices and fire behavior simulation for fire risk assessment in savanna ecosystems. Remote Sensing of Environment, Elsevier. 91(1):1-13.

-          Mbow, C,  Mertz, O. Diouf , A.,  Rasmussen, K., Reenberg, A., 2008. The history of environmental change and adaptation in eastern Saloum-Senegal – driving forces and perceptions. Global and Planetary Change-Elsevier, 64:210-221.

-          Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Reenberg, A., Diouf A. (2009). Farmers' perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environmental Management, 43 (5), 804-816.

-          Fensholt, R., Rasmussen, K., Nielsen, T.T., Mbow, C. 2009. Evaluation of earth observation based long term vegetation trends — Intercomparing NDVI time series trend analysis consistency of Sahel from AVHRR GIMMS, Terra MODIS and SPOT VGT data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 113:1886-1898.

-          Roy, P., D., Ju, J., Mbow, C, Frost, P, Loveland T. 2010. Accessing free Landsat data via the Internet: Africa's challenge'. Remote Sensing Letters, 1 (2):111-117.

-          Mertz, O., Mbow, C. Reenberg, A., Genesio, L., Lambin, E.F., D’haen, S., Zorom, M., Rasmussen, K., Diallo, D., Barbier, B., Bouzou Moussa, I.,Diouf, A., Nielsen, J.O., Sandholt, I. (2010). "Climate Factors Play a Limited Role for Past Adaptation Strategies in West Africa." Ecology and Society 15 (4:25. [online] URL: 15 p.

-          Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Nielsen, J.O., Maiga, A., Diallo, D., Reenberg, A., Diouf, A., Barbier, B., Bouzou Moussa, I., Zorom, M., Ouattara, I., Dabi, D. (2011). "Adaptation strategies and climate vulnerability in the Sudano-Sahelian region of West Africa." Atmospheric Science Letters 12: 104–108.

-          Mbow, C., Skole, D., Dieng, M., Justice, C., Kwesha, D., Mane, L., Gamri, E., M., Vordzogbe, V., V., Virji, & H. (2012). Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa: Desk Review Of REDD+ Implementation in Africa: GLP-IPO, Copenhagen.

-          Fensholt, Rasmus, Langanke, Tobias, Rasmussen, Kjeld, Reenberg, Anette, Prince, D., S., Tucker, Compton, Scholes, J., R., Le, Bao, Q., Bondeau, Alberte, Eastman, Ron, Epstein, Howard, Gaughan, E., A., Hellden, Ulf, Mbow, C., Olsson, Lennart, Paruelo, Jose, Schweitzer, Christian, Seaquist, Jonathan, Wessels, & Konrad (2012). Greenness in semi-arid areas across the globe 1981–2007 — an Earth Observing Satellite based analysis of trends and drivers. Remote Sensing of Environment, 121 :144-158.

-          Mbow, C., Chhin, S., Sambou, B., & Skole, D. (2013). Potential of dendrochronology to assess annual rates of biomass productivity in savanna trees of West Africa. Dendrochronologia, 31, 41-51

-          Sow, M., Hély, C., Mbow, C., Sambou, B., 2013. Fuel and fire behavior analysis for early-season prescribed fire planning in Sudanian and Sahelian savannas. Journal of Arid Environment 89, 84-93.

-          Sow, M., Mbow, C., Hély, C., Fensholt, R., & Sambou, B. (2013). Estimation of Herbaceous Fuel Moisture Content Using Vegetation Indices and Land Surface Temperature from MODIS Data. Remote Sensing, 5, 2617-2638

-          Smith, P., Haberl, H., Popp, A., Erb, K., Lauk, C., Harper, R., Tubiello, F., Pinto,. Jafari, M., Sohi, S., Masera, O., Böttcher, H., Berndes, G., Bustamante, M., Ahammad, H., Clark, H., Dong, H., Elsiddig, E.A., Mbow, C., Ravindranath, N.H., Rice, C.W., Robledo-Abad, C., Romanovskaya, A., Sperling, F., Herrero, M., House, J.I., & Rose, S. (2013). How much land based greenhouse gas mitigation can be achieved without compromising food security and environmental goals? Global Change Biology, Review. Volume 19, Issue 8; pp 2285–2302. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12160

-          Mbow, C., Fensholt, R., Rasmussen, K., & Diop, D. (2013). Can vegetation productivity be derived from greenness in a semi-arid environment? Evidence from ground-based measurements. Journal of Arid Environment, 97, 56-65.

-          Mbow, C., Verstraete, M., M., Sambou, Bienvenu, Diaw, Tahirou, A., Neufeldt, & Henry (2014). Allometric models for aboveground biomass in dry savanna trees of the Sudan and Sudan–Guinean ecosystems of Southern Senegal. Journal of Forest Research, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 340–347. doi:10.1007/s10310-013-0414-1

-          Aster Gebrekirstos, A.B., Ute Sass Klassen, Mbow, C. (2014). Opportunities and applications of dendrochronology in Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6:48-53.

-          Mbow, C., Meine Van Noordwijk., Eike Luedeling, Henry Neufeldt, Peter A Minang, Godwin Kowero (2014). Agroforestry solutions to address climate change and food security challenges in Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6:61-67.

-          Mbow, C, Pete Smith, David Skole, Lalisa Duguma, Mercedes Bustamante (2014). Achieving Mitigation and Adaptation to climate change through sustainable agroforestry practices in Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6:8-14

-          Sammy Carsan, A.S., Roeland Kindt, Mbow, C, Jeremias Mowo, Ramni Jamnadass (2014). Can agroforestry enhance the resilience of agricultural commodity production systems? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6: 35-40

-          Mbow, C, Meine Van Noordwijk, Ravi Prabhu, Tony Simon (2014). Knowledge gaps and research needs concerning agroforestry’s contribution to sustainable development goals in Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6:162-170

-          Mark Stafford Smith, Mbow, C. (2014) Sustainability challenges: Agroforestry from the past into the future. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6:134-137

-          Mbow, C., Rasmus Fensholt, Thomas Theis Nielsen and Kjeld Rasmussen (2014). Advances in Monitoring vegetation and land use dynamics in the Sahel. Danish Journal of Geography;; 1-8.

-          Mbow, C. (2014). "Africa’s greenhouse-gas budget is in the red." Nature 508 (9th April 2014): 192-193. DOI. 10.1038/508192a.

-          Brandt, M., T. Grau, C. Mbow and C. Samimi (2014). "Modeling Soil and Woody Vegetation in the Senegalese Sahel in the Context of Environmental Change." Land 3(3): 770-792.

-          Bustamante, M., Robledo-Abad, C., Harper, R., Mbow, C., Ravindranat, N. H., Sperling, F., Haberl, H., d. S. Pinto, A., Smith and P. (2014). "Co-benefits, trade-offs, barriers and policies for greenhouse gas mitigation in the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector." Glob Chang Biol.

-          Leadley, P., Proenca, V., Fernandez-Manjarres, J., Pereira, H. M., Alkemade, R., Biggs, R., Bruley, E., Cheung, W., Cooper, D., Figueiredo, J., Gilman, E., Guenette, S., Hurtt, G., Mbow, C., Oberdorff, T., Revenga, C., Scharlemann, J. P. W., Scholes, R., Smith, M. S., Sumaila, U. R., Walpole and M. (2014). "Interacting Regional-Scale Regime Shifts for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services." BioScience 64 (8), 665-679.

-          Tagesson, T., Fensholt, R., Guiro, I., Rasmussen, O. M., Huber, S., Mbow, C., Garcia, M., Horion, S., Sandholt, I., Holm-Rasmussen, B., Gottsche, M. F., Ridler, E. M., Olen, N., Olsen L., J., Ehammer, A., Madsen, M., Olesen, S. F., Ardo & J. (2015). Ecosystem properties of semiarid savanna grassland in West Africa and its relationship with environmental variability. Glob Chang Biol, 21, 250-64.

-          Brandt, M., Mbow, C., Diouf, A. A., Verger, A., Samimi, C., Fensholt & R. (2015). Ground- and satellite-based evidence of the biophysical mechanisms behind the greening Sahel. Glob Chang Biol. Volume 21, Issue 4; pp 1610–1620. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12807  

-          Mbow C., Brandt M., Ouedraogo I., Leeuw J.d. & Marshall M. (2015). What Four Decades of Earth Observation Tell Us about Land Degradation in the Sahel? Remote Sensing, 7, 4048-4067.

-          Ouedraogo, I., Mbow, C., Balinga, M., Neufeldt H. (2015). "Transitions in Land Use Architecture under Multiple Human Driving Forces in a Semi-Arid Zone." Land 4(3): 560-577.

-          Brandt, M., Hiernaux, P., Tagesson, T., Verger, A., Rasmussen, K., Diouf, A. A., Mbow, C., Mougin, E., Fensholt R. (2016). "Woody plant cover estimation in drylands from Earth Observation based seasonal metrics." Remote Sensing of Environment 172: 28-38. doi:

-          Tian, Feng, Brandt, Martin, Liu, Y. Y., Verger, Aleixandre, Tagesson, Torbern, Diouf, A. A., Rasmussen, Kjeld, Mbow, C., Wang, Yunjia, Fensholt and Rasmus (2016). "Remote sensing of vegetation dynamics in drylands: Evaluating vegetation optical depth (VOD) using AVHRR NDVI and in situ green biomass data over West African Sahel." Remote Sensing of Environment 177: 265-276.

-          Mwenda Borona, Mbow, C., Issa Ouedraogo (2016). Unstacking high temporal resolution meteorological data for multidimensional analysis of climate variability in southern Burkina Faso. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, 1-14; Doi:10.1080/00167223.2016.1212668

-          Tagesson, T., Ardö, J., Guiro, I., Cropley, F., Mbow, C., Horion, S., Ehammer, A., Mougin, E., Delon, C., Galy-Lacaux, C. and Fensholt, R., 2016. Very high CO2 exchange fluxes at the peak of the rainy season in a West African grazed semi-arid savanna ecosystem. Danish Journal of Geography. Volume 116, 2016 - Issue 2. Pages 93-109.

-          Martin Brandt, Gray Tappan, Abdoul A. Diouf, Gora Beye, Mbow, C., Rasmus Fensholt (2017). Woody vegetation die off and regeneration in response to rainfall variability in the West African Sahel, Remote Sensing, 9(1), 39; doi:10.3390/rs9010039

-          Kennedy Wahome Muthee, Cheikh Mbow, Geoffrey Mugo Macharia, Walter Leal-Filho, (2017) "Ecosystem services in adaptation projects in West Africa", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management,

-          Mbow, C. (2017). The Great Green Wall in the Sahel. Climate Science, Oxford Encyclopedia.  DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.559.

-          Rasmus Fensholt, Mbow, C., Martin Brandt and Kjeld Rasmussen (2017). Desertification and Re-Greening of the Sahel. Climate Science, Oxford Encyclopedia. DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.553.

-          Martin Brandt, Kjeld Rasmussen, Pierre Hiernaux, Stefanie Herrmann, Compton J. Tucker, Xiaoye Tong, Feng Tian, Ole Mertz, Laurent Kergoat, Mbow, C., John L. David, Katherine A. Melocik, Morgane Dendoncker, Caroline Vincke & Rasmus Fensholt, 2018: Reduction of tree cover in West African woodlands and promotion in semi-arid farmlands. Nature Geoscience., doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0092-x. .

-          Mbow, C., David Skole, Moussa Dieng, Christopher Justice, Dominick Kwesha, Landing Mane, Mohamed El Gamri, Vincent Von Vordzogbe, Hassan Virji, 2012. Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa: Desk Review Of REDD+ Implementation in Africa. GLP Report No. 5. GLP-IPO, Copenhagen. ISSN 1904-5069.

-          Smith, P., M. Bustamante, H. Ahammad, H. Clark, H. Dong, E. A. Elsiddig, H. Haberl, R. Harper, J. House, M. Jafari, O. Masera, Mbow, C., N. H. Ravindranath, C. W. Rice, C. R. Abad, A. Romanovskaya, F. Sperling and F. Tubiello (2014). Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). IPCC-Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga et al. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, Cambridge University Press. WG-III: 811-922.

-          Sehmi R, Mbow C, Pitkanen S, Cross H, Berry N, Riddell M, Aynekulu E, Heiskanen J. 2016. Replicable tools and frameworks for bio-carbon developments in West Africa. ICRAF Working paper No. 237. Nairobi, World Agroforestry Centre.

-          Nicholas Berry, Helen Cross, Mike Riddell, Mbow, C., Issa Ouedraogo, Jerome Tondoh. 2016. Community Biocarbon Projects in West Africa: Challenges and Lessons learned, 43 p.

-          Global Sustainable Development Report 2016. Contributing Author for Chapter.

-          Bishaw, Badege, Neufeldt, H., Mowo, J., Abdelkadir, A., Muriuki, J., Dalle, G., Assefa, T., Guillozet, K., Kassa, H., Dawson, I.K., Luedeling, E., & Mbow, C. (2013). Farmers’ Strategies for Adapting to and Mitigating Climate Variability and Change through Agroforestry in Ethiopia and Kenya: Forestry Communications Group, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

-          Haberl H., Mbow, C., X. Deng, E.G. Irwin, S. Kerr, T. Kuemmerle, and B. Turner, II, B. L. (2014). Finite Land Resources and Competition. Strüngmann Forum Books. In: Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, ed. Karen Seto and Anette Reenberg. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

-          Minang, P. A., M. v. Noordwijk, O. E. Freeman, Mbow, C., J. d. Leeuw and D. Catacutan (2015). Climate-smart landscape: Multifunctionality in Practice, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

-          Adriansen, H., K., Mehmood-Ul-Hassan, M., Mbow C. (2016). Producing scientific knowledge in Africa today: auto-ethnographic insights from a climate change researcher (Chap7). In Higher Education and Capacity Building in Africa. Hanne Kirstine Adriansen, Lene Møller Madsen and Stig Jensen (Eds). Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. ISBN: 978-1-138-83815-4 (hbk)/ ISBN: 978-1-315-73462-0 (ebk).

-          Muthee, K., Mbow, C., Macharia, G. and Leal Filho, W., 2017. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) as an Adaptation Strategy in Burkina Faso and Mali. Climate Change Adaptation in Africa: Fostering Resilience and Capacity to Adapt, p.205.