Evaluation of land and vegetation degradation indicators in Kiang'ombe Landscape, Mbeere North, Kenya

  • J.N. Kigomo
  • M.N. Kuria
  • S Gatama
  • E.M. Waweru
Keywords: Local knowledge, woodland, land degradation gradient, rehabilitation, Kiang'ombe landscape

Abstract

Land and vegetation degradation is mainly driven by inappropriate land use which mainly results from use of inadequate technologies and rapid increase of human population. Climate variability and change have also exacerbated the land and vegetation degradation problem. This study was undertaken to provide a valuable tool for assessing land and vegetation degradation risk and analyzing the effectiveness of various woodland rehabilitation practices. This was undertaken through integration of local and scientific techniques in Kiang’ombe landscape, Mbeere North in Kenya. The methods used included; Focus Group Discussions (FGD), key informant interviews with local community and vegetation data collection. Sample plots were laid to characterize and enumerate vegetation along degradation gradient. Major land degradation drivers prioritized by local people were overgrazing (70%), soil erosion (65%), unsustainable charcoal production (55%) wildfires (30%), and uncontrolled sand harvesting (20%). Major land and vegetation degradation indicators identified by local community were; reduced vegetation cover (75%), loss of soil fertility (70%) and low water discharge form springs (53%). Results on vegetation data revealed a significant difference in stocking density and tree diversity along degradation gradient (p<0.05). Protea gaugedi was identified as wildfire tolerant tree species due to its high occurrence in fire prone areas. In addition, Croton macrostachyus, Acacia hockii and Faurea saligna were prioritized tree species for rehabilitation of degraded areas. The study recommends integration of scientific and local knowledge during monitoring of woodland degradation and assessing the impact of rehabilitation interventions.

Keywords: Local knowledge, woodland, land degradation gradient, rehabilitation, Kiang'ombe landscape

Published
2018-04-24
Section
Articles

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print ISSN: 2141-1778