Range Rehabilitation using Opuntia Enclosures in Lake Baringo Basin, Kenya<br />Stephen MUREITHI, Elizabeth MEYERHOFF and ...
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin
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Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin

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Degraded rangeland can easily be rehabilitated by fencing it with prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica)

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Range rehabilitation using opuntia enclosures in lake baringo basin

  1. 1. Range Rehabilitation using Opuntia Enclosures in Lake Baringo Basin, Kenya<br />Stephen MUREITHI, Elizabeth MEYERHOFF and Willem VAN COTTHEM)<br />Background<br />Land in the Njemps Flats in the Lake Baringo Basin in Kenya is legally community owned. Uncontrolled utilization, overgrazing and mismanagement have precipitated in decades a ‘tragedy of the commons’-scenario, manifested in severe land degradation.<br />To address the socio-economic problems caused by severe soil degradation, the Rehabilitation of Arid Environments (RAE) Trust, initiated in 1982, established large-scale “communal” enclosures, rehabilitating the land following a participatory approach.<br />Communal enclosures, varying in size from 6 to 400 ha, are perimeter-fenced using a solar-powered electric fence. After de-branching the noxious woody vegetation, mainly Acacia mellifera, the land was prepared for planting through chiseling to break the surface crust and through construction of micro-catchments, e.g. embankments.<br />A mixture of drought-resistant trees and grasses, such as the fast-growing exotic Prosopis and Leucaena tree species and the indigenous grasses Cenchrus ciliaris, Enteropogon macrostachyus and Eragrostis superba, had been selected for planting and reseeding respectively.<br />Direct benefits derived from the enclosures include grazing resources, sale of cut grass for fodder or thatching, grass seed, poles and fuelwood, and bee keeping, amongst others. The rehabilitation success attained in these communal enclosures soon fostered many local inhabitants to establish “private” enclosures. This gave rise to a mosaic of enclosures, differing with respect to the years since establishment, and based on two distinct management types.<br />A good vegetation cover has been reported (see here HYPERLINK "http://tinyurl.com/6eje59u" t "_blank" http://tinyurl.com/6eje59u) within these enclosures, resulting in a very sharp contrast between the enclosure and the surrounding open rangeland. The private enclosures, reseeded and managed by individual farmers with limited financial and technical resources, range in size from less than 1 to 13 ha. Fencing of these private enclosures is done using cut thorn bushes (Acacia and Prosopis sp.) and/or planted Pricky Pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica). Read more about the enclosure story here (http://www.springerlink.com/content/p5058m7107034l5m).<br />2005-08 : Private enclosure without any fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : The same private enclosure using an Opuntia live fence (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Another private enclosure established using Opuntia live fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Again a private enclosure established using Opuntia live fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Private enclosure established using Opuntia live fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin. The road left is susceptible to gulley erosion during rain storms. (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Private enclosure established using Opuntia live fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Private enclosure established using Opuntia live fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Open degraded communal rangelands, being invaded by Prosopis juliflora (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Open degraded communal rangelands, being invaded by Prosopis juliflora <br />2011-01 : Opuntia fence established to the left of an open communal grazing land being invaded by Prosopis juliflora. Note, Opuntia is also potential weed/invader in degraded areas <br />2011-01 : A homestead enclosed with Opuntia cactus. Note the cut-thorn bush placed on top of the juvenile live fence by the owner to protect it from being uprooted by livestock. The gulley in the foreground is naturally recovering following the trapping of sediments and slowing down of flood water by the Opuntia fence (Photo Stephern Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Some few private enclosures in the Lake Baringo Basin are as large as 50 acres or more (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : A pricky pear (Opuntia) cactus fence established before the solar electric fence in Field 13, Lamalok was put in place (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : University of Nairobi Researchers sampling soils inside Field 13 Communal enclosure at Lamalok (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Rain water harvesting embankment inside a reseeded communal enclosure Field 13 at Lamalok (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-08 : Field 13 Lamalok before the establishment of the Opuntia fence (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : The same entrance of Field 13 communal enclosure, but now with a well established Opuntia fence, planted as demarcation, as later a solar electric fence was to be fixed inside. However, the Opuntia became a better living fence (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : A homestead enclosed by a living Opuntia cactus fence in Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin. Due to the proximity to a communal enclosure, the homestead is a custody of the solar-electric apparatus serving the communal enclosure with electric power. ‘It is safer here against vandalism’. (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-08 : At Lamalok, Lake Baringo Basin there was no sight of any Prosopis juliflora invasion, though the place was severely degraded without any herbaceous cover (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Severe invasion of the same degraded communal grazing land in Lamalok (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Most households keep many goats, while the number of cows has reduced due to lack of pastures and loss during droughts. Here, 11.00 a.m., a farmer’s flock has just been let out heading to pasture (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : The Opuntia cactus fence offers right condition for germination of Prosopis juliflora seeds below it, due to moisture trickling from accumulating dew at night, and shading from scorching sun during day. However, the ‘unthankful Prosopis shrubs’ aggressively invades the Opuntia cactus fence, denying it sunlight, and eventually choking it to death (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : Fluvisols are the dominant soils in the Njemps Flats. Some pockets with Vertisols, like the one featured here exist. Vertisols are characterised by serious cracking during the dry season (Photo Sterphen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : University of Nairobi Researchers carrying out sampling biomass and cover using transects and quadrats inside a private enclosure at Lamalok (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : A well fenced private enclosure at Meisori, Njemps Flats, Lake Baringo Basin (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : A flock of goats in a private enclosure at Meisori, Njemps Flats (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2011-01 : A well established Pricky Pear (Opuntia cactus) fence not only protects, but is also a source of food. Notice the ripened fruits (also known by the local people in Baringo as the ‘wild-blood-bank’). The plant relies on pollination by bees and other insects, and produces colourful flowers to attract its pollinators (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-09 : A private enclosure protected by a live Opuntia cactus fence, with the farmer’s cows grazing in the background. Notice the invading Prosopis juliflora around the fence (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-09 : Establishing a live Opuntia fence starts with lying of the paddles (some farmers slightly burry the cut-tip for faster establishment of the roots). The rains are ‘good news’ for every plant in the arid areas (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-09 : Lying of the paddles to establish an Opuntia fence (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />Once the paddles are rooted to the ground, it marks the start of an Opuntia fence. Most farmers place cut-thorn bush on top of juvenile Opuntia to protect it from easily being uprooted by livestock as they bite the ‘flesh-juicy paddle’ of a young cactus plant (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />2005-09 : Field 13 communal enclosure in the background, protected by both Opuntia cactus fence and solar electric (not visible) fences. In this photo, the driver of the small pick-up was about to ‘sleep in the bush’, the vehicle not coping with the wet Fluvisols (Photo Stephen Mureithi)<br />

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