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Deriving scalable measures for restoration of communal grazing lands

Jason Sircely, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya
Bulle Osman Abdisemet, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya
Joel Kamango, South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Nairobi, Kenya
Albert Kuseyo, South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Nairobi, Kenya
Minale Wondie Markos, Amhara National Regional State Bureau of Agriculture, Community-Based Integrated Natural Resource Management Project (CBINReMP), Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Irene Njoki Nganga, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya
Samantha Russell, South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Nairobi, Kenya
Joel Mejaa Somare, South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Nairobi, Kenya
Tamene Tolessa, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Andarge Workneh, Amhara National Regional State Bureau of Agriculture, Community-Based Integrated Natural Resource Management Project (CBINReMP), Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Elias Zerfu, Independent consultant

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12848-270110

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Abstract

Participatory action research in communal grazing lands can inform end users on cost-effective methods for restoring land to improve local livelihoods and environmental quality in terms of reduced degradation and enhanced ecosystem services. A multi-stakeholder process involving producers, development practitioners, and researchers is demonstrated for conducting action research to restore degraded communal grazing lands in East Africa. Producer-managed trials provided actionable evidence on brief resting durations and reseeding in pastoral rangelands in Kenya, and on improved forages and weeding in grazing exclosures in the Ethiopian highlands. The usefulness of this evidence is demonstrated through quantitative data and stated or revealed preferences of livestock producers. Local land management institutions and government and civil society practitioners confirmed the utility of the results to land management practice and policy, while spontaneous local up-scaling of improved forages in exclosures affirmed their scalability. These results are attributable to elements of the action research process, including prioritization of practical producer needs, close involvement of local institutions able to take action, collaborative design of producer-managed trials, and generation of evidence applicable in scaling. Among the restoration options tested, those more successful in trials and preferred by producers tended to have moderate (or low) costs, complexity, time to returns, and risk, suggesting possible optimization of trade-offs among options, such as between the potential performance of an option and its risk. Robust options that balance consistency with effectiveness may be good candidates for scaling. In communal grazing lands facing varied constraints to restoration, using research methodology responsive to institutional stakeholders at and above local level is an effective strategy for deriving scalable restoration approaches for win-win gains in livelihoods and the environment.

Key words

action research; communal land; exclosure; grazing; local institutions; rangeland; research-in-development; resting; scaling

Copyright © 2022 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087