Land use and cover change in pastoral systems of Uganda: Implications on livestock management under drought induced pasture
The rangelands of Uganda used to be historically managed under traditional systems where grazers had open access with mobility as a main coping strategy to drought. Changes in land ownership, increased population and demand for food and fuel have led to changes in land use and cover types, affecting livestock management practices. This study assessed the extent of land use and cover change in Buliisa and Nakasongola Districts in the cattle corridor of Uganda over 27 years (1986 –2013), and their impacts on livestock management under drought
induced pasture. Landsat TM (1986) and Landsat ETM+ (2000 and 2013) images were processed using a hybrid of supervised and unsupervised classification algorithm, using ENV1 software 4.7. Area under open water and grassland declined by 3.5 and 48.3%, while woodland, wetland, small scale farming and forest increased by 0.2, 62.2, 320.7 and 64.1%, respectively, in Buliisa. In Nakasongola, grassland, bushland and forest decreased by 96.1, 25.6 and 17.2%, respectively; while open water, bare ground, wetland, and small scale farming increased by 5.3, 210.9, 2.7 and 26.8%, respectively, between 1986 and 2013. Individualisation of land in Nakasongola led to settlement of cultivators and fencing of land leading to blockage of livestock migration routes. Reduced mobility of livestock during drought, increased stock densities resulting in land degradation exemplified by bare land in Nakasongola compared to Buliisa, where communal land ownership and limited cultivation enabled mobility. The current land use and cover changes have delineated mobility as a coping strategy to drought, contributed to degradation of rangelands, reduced the resilience of pastoral systems to drought and increased their vulnerability
to climate change. Farm based water and forage conservation should be enhanced to sustain livestock production.
Key Words: Cattle corridor, coping strategy, forage, migration