Woody plant encroachment on the rangelands has been identified as a major threat to subsistence livestock herding globally. Among various determinants, indigenous pastoralist management regime strongly affects rangeland vegetation dynamics at a fine spatial scale. However, mechanisms of how different vegetation functional groups respond to livestock grazing under complex indigenous management regimes are yet to be explored. By integrating plant survey with GPS-tracking of cattle movement, we investigate rangeland vegetation diversity and spatial distribution of grazing intensity in an indigenous pastoralist community in southern Ethiopia, and explore patterns of plant-livestock interaction. The results indicate that vegetation structure and composition are significantly different under three distinct indigenous land use types. Spatial distribution of grazing intensity is heterogeneous under indigenous rangeland management regimes. Both plant diversity and richness are lower given moderate grazing intensity. While herbaceous cover is generally lower at locations with heavier grazing pressure, moderate grazing intensity is associated with the lowest woody cover. The findings imply that maintaining moderate grazing intensity helps to balance pastoralist livelihoods and resource sustainability.
- Bush encroachment
- Indigenous grazing management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agronomy and Crop Science