Management and restoration towards healthy rangelands in East Africa

Last changed: 04 February 2021
Cow at pasture in Chepereria. Photo.

In this project we will identify restoration interventions and management practices that promote healthy, productive and sustainable rangelands.

A healthy rangeland is a productive ecosystem with a high level of biomass of good quality for grazing animals, and a diverse mixture of vegetation species with a high proportion of perennials growing on healthy and fertile soil. However, dry rangelands are often degraded and have low productivity.

Drylands are an important biome since they hosts around 25% of the human population of the world and 50% of its livestock. Continued degradation of dry rangelands is exacerbated by population increase, overgrazing and climate change. The demand for livestock products is expected to increase by some 50-60% until 2050 and this is a possibility for poor livestock keepers in sub Saharan Africa to enhance their livelihoods. This project aims to identify restoration interventions and management practices that promote healthy, productive and sustainable rangelands. The outcomes will be improved livestock productivity, soil health, hydrological functioning and the provision of ecosystem services at large, leading to better food and water security and enhanced livelihoods.

We will achieve this by comparing different restoration efforts and intensification managements in two sites in Kenya (Chepareria and Kalama) with “business as usual” from both environmental services and productivity aspects. We will study soil C and water dynamics, vegetation dynamics, rangeland health and qualitative and quantitative aspects of fodder production. Results will be modelled and scaled through remote sensing and by linking results to a network of more than 300 sites across the tropics (LDSF sites) analysed following the Ecosystem Health Surveillance System developed by World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

In one of the activities we will place, within the LDSF sites, a newly developed concept of Livestock cafés (LC ) that will serve as hubs for field visits by farmer/herder groups. At the LC we will test options for improved and sustainable management of rangelands, in particular how fodder and livestock production can be intensified to maintain, or gain, resilience. The plots will be seeded with indigenous grasses and a combination of grasses and legumes. These experimental plots are managed for forage production and can be utilized for controlled grazing by the local communities (hence the ”Café” term).

An inter-disciplinary group of scientists from Sweden and Kenya will carry ot the project. Communication and interaction with end users and policy makers is integrated in our research design.

Project manager:

Ewa Wredle

Project team:

Gert Nyberg, Aida Bargues Tobella, Ulrik Ilstedt (all SLU), Stephen Mureithi (Univ of Nairobi) and Leigh Winowiecki (ICRAF).