|"TOP STORIES" FROM THE ILRI
WEBSITE: Last updated 19 August 2008; Posted 22 July 2008|
Better lives through livestock
|Conversion of pastures to croplands is big climate change threat|
|New study results are warning that the conversion of pasturelands to croplands will be the major contributor to global warming in east Africa.|
Climate change is a real and
current threat to households and communities already struggling to survive
in east Africa. Global climate modelling results indicate that the region
will experience wetter and warmer conditions as well as decreases in
agricultural productivity. However, results just released by the Climate
Land Interaction Project (CLIP) forecast that there will be a high degree
of variability within the region with some areas becoming wetter and
others drier. This research provides evidence of the complex connection
between regional changes in climate and changes in land cover and land
use. The results forecast the conversion of vast amounts of land from
grasslands to croplands over the next 40 years, with serious consequences
for the environment.
CLIP researchers, together with the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, organised a workshop to present CLIP modelling results to key decision-makers in Kenya. The workshop, held in Nairobi, highlighted the policy and technical implications and options for climate change adaptations in Kenya.
CLIP researcher and professor at MSU, Jeffrey
Andresen, warns that the erosion of east African grazing lands is a major
threat facing Kenya and other east African countries. 'Results of
running these models indicate that the greatest amount of contribution to
global warming in the east Africa region is not going to be motor vehicles
or methane emissions from livestock or conversions of forests to pastures
but rather conversion of pasturelands to croplands’ says
Projected climate and land use
changes in northern Kenya
Simulation models predict that areas in the remote northeast around Wajir, for example, will have greater vegetation cover and become much bushier than at present. Grazing lands are already scarce and the increasing encroachment of bush into grazing areas will create further problems for livestock keepers.
The quantity and quality of water will also be affected by the forecast changes in rainfall patterns and temperature regimes. These changes will not only affect water availability for humans and livestock but also accelerate the rate of vegetation change in different and opposite ways for different places. The ratio of tall to short grass species and closed to open vegetation, for example, depend partially on soil moisture content. It is likely that the anticipated climatic changes will greatly alter the grass ratios and these changes will then exert adverse effects on feed resources for livestock and significantly modify herd composition. In addition, traditional land management interventions, such as the use of fires and overgrazing may increase the scale, intensity and speed of these impacts.
CLIP researcher and ILRI scientist, Joseph Mworia Maitima concludes ‘Many millions of Kenyans already face severe poverty and constraints in pursuing a livelihood. But, with these projected increasing environmental stresses, they are going to become even more vulnerable.
‘It’s crucial that we now start talking about the technical and policy implications and come up with options that will help the poor adapt.’
|- ENDS -|
|For media enquiries, please contact:|
LIVESTOCK RESEARCH INSTITUTE|
Research in animal agriculture to reduce hunger, poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries.
Box 30709, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya Phone +254 (20) 422-3000 Fax +254 (20) 422-3001 Email ILRI-Kenya@cgiar.org Web http://www.ilri.org/