GEMEDO DALLE TUSSIE1, BRIGITTE L. MAASS1, JOHANNES ISSELSTEIN2
1Georg-august University of Goettingen, Institute for Crop and Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
2Georg-august University Goettingen, Institute of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Germany
Rangeland condition assessment was conducted in the Borana lowlands, Ethiopia to determine the current status and future trend of the grazing land with emphasis on comparing different functional land use units called Kalo, Worra and Foora. An approach that integrated soil, herbaceous and woody plants of the rangeland was followed. Density and frequency of woody plants were determined in 123 plots of 500 m2, whereas, scores of grass species composition, basal cover, litter cover, number of grass seedlings, grass age distribution, soil erosion and compaction were recorded from 615 subplots of 0.25 m2. Furthermore, relationships between rangeland condition score and herbaceous biomass production, percent bare soil, and density, frequency and percent cover of woody plants were determined by applying multivariate analyses. The overall rangeland condition appeared to be in a transitional state from good to poor with a downward trend. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) and Redundancy Analysis (RDA) illustrated that woody plants were negatively correlated with rangeland condition score, botanical composition and basal cover of grasses. Low score of grass composition, low herbaceous biomass production and increased woody plants cover were some of the indicators of rangeland deterioration. Woody plants encroachment, lack and/or shortage of rain, and ban of rangeland burning were among the major factors that caused rangeland deterioration. Rangeland degradation directly affects livestock production on which the livelihood of Borana pastoralists depends, resulting in food insecurity and ecological instability. Therefore, rangeland rehabilitation, re-utilisation of fire as a range management tool, and selective clearing of woody plants are recommended as a result of this study.
Keywords: Borana lowlands, food insecurity and botanical composition, rangeland condition and trend