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Swärd, Anna Linnéa Elisabeth, 2023. Ecosystem services from woody vegetation in East African rangelands. Second cycle, A2E. Umeå: SLU, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management



Drylands cover nearly half of the Earth's land surface and are dominated by croplands and rangelands. Dryland ecosystems worldwide are affected by land degradation. Increased population pressure, climate change and unsustainable land use threaten essential ecosystem services and adversely impact people’s livelihoods and well-being. Dryland inhabitants in developing countries are highly dependent on ecosystem services from woody plants, and tree-based restoration measures are thus of utmost importance. However, effective restoration requires a better understanding of the complexity and variability of these ecosystems and the needs of the people living there, a perspective that is often lacking. Restoration interventions have mostly focused on agricultural land and farmers and less on rangelands and (agro)pastoralists. Rangelands are characterized by a naturally low tree cover, and the importance of trees in these areas has thus often been overlooked. This study aims to contribute more knowledge on the importance of woody plants to rangeland inhabitants, focusing on the contribution of different species in providing important ecosystem services, as well as how people manage woody vegetation and how this management, in turn, affects woody vegetation. Two different sites with different dominant livelihood strategies were selected for this study; Chepareria in West Pokot County, Kenya, dominated by agro-pastoralists, and Rupa in Moroto District, Uganda, dominated by pastoralists. Findings from this study show that people in these two sites possessed significant knowledge of woody plants and their benefits. People perceived several ecosystem services from woody plants, most of which were associated with native species. The most valued ecosystem services were food, firewood, fodder and improved local climate. Although most ecosystem services identified in both sites were similar, the associated species often differed. In Chepareria, the land was dominated by privately managed enclosures, while in Rupa, it was mainly open common access communal land. In both sites, people actively managed woody plants to preserve and protect them, although with more emphasis on assisted natural regeneration in Rupa. Despite this, local people perceived that the native tree cover had decreased in both sites, negatively affecting the availability of critical ecosystem services. In Chepareria, the decline was attributed to land use change and increased grazing pressure, while in Rupa, it was attributed to a shift in livelihood strategies from livestock keeping to charcoal production. Due to insufficient data, results on links between land-use, access to land, preferred species and ecosystem services, and woody species presence and abundance in the landscape were inconclusive. The many differences between the two studied sites clearly highlight that restoration requires tailored strategies with a bottom-up approach that considers the local people's knowledge, experience, needs, and aspirations.

Main title:Ecosystem services from woody vegetation in East African rangelands
Authors:Swärd, Anna Linnéa Elisabeth
Supervisor:Bargues Tobella, Aida and Nyberg, Ylva and Mureithi, Stephen M. and Winowiecki, Leigh Ann
Examiner:Östlund, Lars
Series:Examensarbeten / SLU, Institutionen för skogens ekologi och skötsel
Volume/Sequential designation:2023:16
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:None
Supervising department:(S) > Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
Keywords:dryland ecosystems, rangelands, rangelands, woody vegetation, restoration, Karamoja, West Pokot, pastoralists, agro-pastoralists, East Africa
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Deposited On:09 Oct 2023 10:57
Metadata Last Modified:10 Oct 2023 01:03

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