Rehabilitation of community-owned, mixed-use rangelands: Lessons from the Ewaso ecosystem in Kenya

TitleRehabilitation of community-owned, mixed-use rangelands: Lessons from the Ewaso ecosystem in Kenya
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKimiti D.W., Hodge A.M.C., Herrick JE, Beh A, Abbott L
JournalPlant Ecology
Date Published02/2017
ARIS Log Number330030

Globally, 10-20% of arid and semi-arid rangelands have been classified as severely degraded (UNCCD 1994; MEA 2005), and in sub-Saharan Africa specifically, 70% of rangelands are considered moderately to severely degraded (Dregne 1992; UNCCD 1994). Given that these drylands make up 43% of Africa’s land area and support approximately 45% of its population, restoring, maintaining and even increasing their productivity is imperative from both conservation and food security standpoints. In the Laikipia and Samburu counties of North Central Kenya, degradation manifests itself through the increase of bare ground and the replacement of perennial grasses by undesirable plant species, primarily Acacia reficiens and Opuntia stricta, resulting in reduced forage availability. Further complicating management options is the fact that most land in this ecosystem is owned by community conservancies, where the land is managed to support both wildlife and livestock grazing. There has been considerable effort targeted towards using mechanical clearing coupled with reseeding to combat A. reficiens spread. Additionally, the use of both traditional and modern mobile cattle enclosures (commonly referred to as bomas) to initiate autogenic restoration has had an impact on creating vegetation patches in areas with increasing bare ground. Here, we look at the challenges faced in implementing these interventions, as well as the successes and opportunities associated with them.