East Africa Region

East Africa Region

The LUCID team’s field research and data analysis in all the sites was conducted within a common conceptual and methodological framework to permit the comparison of research results across sites. The result has been the development of generalizations-of common processes and trends that have occurred across the region-and identification of the impact of particular circumstances that have led to variations between sites.

The results of the East Africa cross-site and regional analyses are presented in several papers. The two main papers include one land use change patterns and root causes (# 47), and the other on the linkages between these land use changes, with changes in biodiversity and land degradation (# 42). In addition, land use change root causes are compared across the boundary near Mt. Kilimanjaro (# 44), and changes across ecological gradients in the region are analysed (# 45).

The team also produced conceptual and methodological frameworks, or guides, to conduct this type of research. The two comprehensive works include one on how to identify trends and linkages between changes in land use, biodiversity and land degradation (# 43), and another on how to identify the root causes of land use change leading to land degradation and changing biodiversity (# 48). Several other guides focusing on field research or specific methods are listed on the methodology page.

Research Results – Summary

The overarching finding of the LUCID land use changes analyses is how rapidly farming and agro-pastoral systems have changed. Small-scale farmers and pastoralists have changed their entire system several times since the 1950’s. New land uses have been developed, and existing land uses have been transformed. In sum, the most significant land use changes have been:

  1. An expansion of cropping into grazing areas, particularly in the semi-arid to sub-humid areas.
  2. An expansion of rain-fed and irrigated agriculture in wetlands or along streams especially in semi-arid areas.
  3. A reduction in size of many woodlands and forests on land that is not protected.
  4. An intensification of land use in areas already under crops in the more humid areas.
  5. The maintenance of natural vegetation in most protected areas.

These changes have allowed many more people to live on the land as farmers and agro-pastoralists, and the systems have shown flexibility and adaptability in face of changing international and national economic and political structures. Diversification, towards a mixture of crops and livestock, cash and food crops, and farm and non-farm income, has been a critical means for households to reduce their risk in face of these changes. Despite the rapid evolution of systems responding to these forces, rural poverty is common and key environmental resources are becoming increasingly scarce, contested and/ or degraded. The LUCID team found that poverty, poor land management, and land degradation are much more common and persistent in marginal environments, especially the remote, semi-arid zones.

In general, as native vegetation is lost, indigenous plant and animal biodiversity, and plant cover are lost. Many indigenous species, products of long-term evolution of these ecosystems, do not tolerate heavy land use by farmers, grazers and settlers. Indigenous plant species decline and exotic, common species increase.

Pastoralism maintains native plant and animal species more effectively than crop cultivation. Pastures with moderate grazing support more plant species than un-grazed pastures. As croplands expand, soil fertility and moisture drops and soils erode more easily. As farming and settlement expands, less water is available for people, livestock, and wildlife. Irrigation for crops pollutes water sources. Farmers who grow many crops conserve native plant species better than those who grow only one crop. Some farmers cope with land degradation by increasing crop diversity.

Moderate farming in less forested areas is found to increase tree cover thus increasing the diversity of bird species. Farming in grassland, woodlands and bushland areas where there are fewer trees, increases the diversity of habitats due to introduction of agro-ecosystems that attract new species of birds. However, if the farming is intensified and the diversity of habitats is reduced the diversity of birds is also reduced.

Working Papers for East Africa Region

Maitima, J., R.S. Reid, L.N. Gachimbi, A. Majule, H. Lyaruu, D. Pomeroy, S. Mugatha, S. Mathai, S. Mugisha. 2004. The Linkages Between Land Use Change, Land Degradation and Biodiversity Across East Africa.
PDF – 880KB

Campbell, David J., Salome B. Misana and Jennifer M. Olson. 2004. Comparing the Kenyan and Tanzanian Slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro: Why are the adjacent land uses so distinct?
PDF – 786KB

Majule, A.E; M.J. Mbonile and D.J. Campbell. 2004. Ecological Gradients as a Framework for Analysis of Land Use Change.
PDF – 257KB

Working Paper 46:
Mariene, Charity Tirindi. 2004. Results of Feedback Workshops In Manyatta Division, Embu District and Siakago Division, Mbeere District: Kenya.
PDF – 912KB

Olson, Jennifer M., Salome Misana, David J. Campbell, Milline Mbonile and Sam Mugisha. 2004. The Spatial Patterns and Root Causes of Land Use Change in East Africa.
PDF – 2.7MB

Olson, Jennifer M., Salome Misana, David J. Campbell, Milline Mbonile and Sam Mugisha. 2004. A Research Framework to Identify the Root Causes of Land Use Change Leading to Land Degradation and Changing Biodiversity.
PDF – 892KB