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Rhodes University

Department of Environmental Science

Land degradation Assessment Using LFA Method in Kopoch, West Pokot District; Kenya

Author: John Kapoi Kipterer

Submitted to Dr. J Gambiza (PhD)

Submission date: 11/11/2011 Submission Time: 11.18 am (East African Time) Assignment for the partial fulfillment of Certificate in Land degradation Assessment

Land degradation Assessment Using LFA Method in Kopoch,site, West Pokot District;Kenya

The study focuses on the Land function analysis in land degradation assessment, a simple methodology that utilizes locally available tools to bring results. The investigators aimed at using this methodology to determine the key determinants of land functional analysis and to find out the level of degradation in the study area. The study was conducted and the findings using the methodology concurred with the actual general ground situation in the area.

1.0 Introduction Land is a non renewable resource on the human timescale.(P.Brabant, 2008).Land is the worlds most precious resource, it is not however appreciated for its true value because of the high prices obtained from gold, petroleum, mineral ore and other precious stones, therefore land is treated as a mere dirt (Edouard Saouma, FAO, 1996) Land degradation is serious and slow onset disasters that at long run undermines the land production and change the livelihood patterns. IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) economic block of Africa, in the Africa monitoring of Environment for sustainable development adopted the FAO definition of land degradation for the project. According to IGAD, (FAO, 2010), Land degradation is the temporary or permanent productive capacity of land to provide ecosystem goods and services. A researcher at IRD (P.Brabant, 2008) puts it that land degradation is a process that diminishes or destroys the agricultural crop or livestock and forest production capacity of land and it i largely induced by human activities or can be natural phenomenon aggravated by human activities. From Pierre Brabant studies in West Africa, he found out that, degradation could have several impacts on soil functions thus deteriorating the productive capacity of land. 1.1 Statement of the Problem Land degradation has affected land productivity levels and has caused receding pasture in agro pastoral, pastoral and mixed livelihood zones where livestock keeping forms a major source of

income or livelihoods in Africa. This undermined the economies (Gambiza, 2010).According to UNEP 2008, and Taimi, 2008, and FAO, 2005, an estimate of 65% of Africas Agricultural land is degraded due to erosion and both chemical and physical damage, and about 31% of continents pasture land and 19% of forests and woodland are classified as degraded. Globally, Land degradation is increasing in severity and extend in many parts of the world with more that 20% of all cultivated areas, 30% of all forests and 10%garssland are undergoing degradation (Bai et al, 2008). It is for this reasons that, studies and integration of assessment methodologies to bring more understanding on the concept and the threats posed by land degradation to the economy to inform the stakeholders in land resource management and the users is necessary to control or mitigate against the impending impacts of land degradation. 1.2 Objectives To determine the spatial extent and severity of land degradation at large scale using integration of geospatial technologies and conduct specific plot scale assessment using landscape function Analysis (LFA) 1.3 Research Questions What is the correct state of landscape function and extent of degradation at the site? What are the Key determinants of Landscape function analysis?

1.4 Land degradation definitions in Ostrom framework Considerations According to Ostrom framework, which lays more emphasis on socio economic and political, set up. Group one of the students who participated in land degradation course in Rhodes University (John Kapoi: Kenya, Leigh-Ann de Wet: RSA, Zanele Linda: RSA), September, 2011, defines land degradation as the process in which natural resource is depleted by human and natural activities, that ends up affecting the production system, and the capacity of the land, leading to accelerated degradation.

The group further identified soil as a resource unit, economic value, agriculture and productivity as a resource system, Government departments, regional authorities and economic blocks as governance system natural habitat, vegetation, water and river system as related systems and the users as the community, farmers and various industries around. 1.5.0 Forms of land degradation Land degradation manifests itself through vegetation which may provide fuel and fodder becomes increasing scarce, water courses dry up, thorny weeds predominate in once rich pasture foot paths disappear into gullies soil becomes thin and stony (Michael Stocking, et al ,2000). 1.5.1 Ecological or Biological land degradation. The ecological or biological land degradation is where the original plant species and animal species invade a particular area or locality while the original species (flora and fauna) slowly disappear or are suppressed. (P.Brabant, 2010). From his research in Africa, Brabant observes that, Biological degradation is however and indication of reduction in organic matter, macro fauna quantity and biodiversity. 1.5.2 Chemical Degradation This is degradation where the soil is polluted causing loss of nutrients, excess salinization, acidification and alkalization (Brabant, 2010) 1.5.3 Wind and Water Erosion. Wind and Water erosion is the most common form of land degradation in the IGAD economic region of Africa. It is for this reason that EU and AU through AMESD project committed 1.94 Million Euros for the assessment to identify extent and severity of land degradation at the regional and national levels and to identify local hotspots for comprehensive assessment. Wind erosion severity is common in Northern parts of Africa; however the severity by water erosion in the IGAD block is more prominent with large economic impacts in food security and livelihoods. 1.5.4 Other forms of land degradation:

The degradation due to war or conflicts, leaves the land with remnants of explosives, antipersonnel mines, deformation due to bombings and defoliant sprays and remnants of uranium munitions. (P.Brabant, 2010) 1.5.4 Causes of land degradation According to Peter Ikemefuna,et al (2008),The researcher puts it that, Scientists and development practitioners acknowledge that the worst potent source of land degradation is from the anthropogenic activities that accelerate changes in land use and land cover through unsustainable land use. S.Vetter (2005) observes that, the high human and livestock densities and continuous grazing has led to undesirable vegetation changes and more worrying accelerated the soil erosion. In my view based on these observations, it is clear that, the socio economic dynamics coupled with pressure to sustain the economic demands from the populations and poor planning among the farmers in developing countries at long run leads to land degradation. S. Vetter (2005) observed that the sedentarization of pastoralist and or supplementary feeding among the livestock farmers leads to heavy utilization of parts of the range. A number of causes have been explored by many researchers and professional groups based on their areas of study. The climatic changes thats resulted to frequent droughts and heavy precipitation is one of the main cause of land degradation mainly the wind and water erosion forms of degradation. The rapid urbanization as a result of rural urban migration pushing housing demand in urban areas high, leading to massive clearance of land for development contributes to land degradation because in the process clearance of once protected and encroachment of forests or undisturbed areas for construction takes place. The poor farming methods or practices among the farmers in rural areas, contributes to this menace. The high population growth in agricultural areas, may compromise the situation further The poverty among the farmers in rural agricultural areas, and the lack of investment capacity, leads to poor farming practices hence degradation. (P.Brabant, 2010)

Land tenure system in some rural areas especially communal land, suffers from degradation because of poor land management in this systems. The overgrazing and trampling of livestock leaves this type of land degraded. This case was observed in Mgwalana communal land in Peddie, in Republic of South Africa, and several pastoral regions of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia under Africa Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Environment (AMESD) Land degradation index mapping service. The same observation was made in East Africa by S.Vetter, 2005 where overgrazing was identified as a problem in communal land tenure system areas Overstocking and overgrazing which leads to removal of vegetation cover that protects soil from forms of erosion, leads to land degradation. According to S. Vetter, 2005, the susceptibility of soils to grazers induced changes such crusting, compaction and accelerated erosion is related to texture, with sandy soil being more resilient than clay soil in arid areas. The armed conflicts, insecurity and rural population movement is one of the cause of land degradation in war torn countries (P.Brabant, 2010) HIV and AIDS pandemic. The population suffering from this pandemic, most often do not engage in there daily duties as opposed to the healthy populations population energies are weakened by the effects of this disease and for farmers, the farms are left unattended, and managed and as a result, soil may be washed away by erosive rainfall, Peter Ikemefuna et al, 2008 observes that, HIV and AIDS Pandemic have significantly compounded the problem of non-management of land and hence are degraded through service loss of mature population and loss of farm labor and agricultural knowledge (Peter Ikemefuna, et al 2008.


Material and Methods 2.1 Site description

The Site of investigation lies in west Pokot district of Kenya, at a GPS coordinate point of N: 01o 19 50.4 E 035o,03 27.8 at an altitude of 1628m above the mean sea level. Thorny short acacia bushes with patches of grass and other short woody vegetation characterize the site. The soil type is a mix of sandy loam and silty loam with high stoniness (gravel) contents. The terrain characteristics is sloppy with rough surface nature with its aspect sloping towards the north western part of the district. 2.2 Materials The main materials utilized for this assessment in the field are very simple and easily available. The materials includes; the tape measure, at least 30 to 100 m, GPs to be able to reference the position for time series monitoring over the same transect, pegs to mark beginning and end of the transect, a bottle of water for soil slate test, and cryptogram testing, The timer or watch are used to record beginning and the end of the assessment, the camera, paper clipboard and the writing pens or pencil for data entry purposes 2.3 Methods The landscape function assessment (LFA) involves three main steps. In step 1 and 2 involves the details of transects, identification of landscape profile characterizations to set up the transect though determination of slope aspect, lithology, soils and vegetation type is determined. Step 2 mainly involves location of transect, planning and identification of patches and inter patches for assessment. In step 3 of the methodology, the soil assessment in the query zone, litter, rain splash, perennial vegetation cover, cryptogram cover, crust brokenness, soil erosion type and severity, deposition materials, soil surface roughness, surface resistance, slate and texture assessment is undertaken in detail.

3.0 Results 3.1 Land surface function The site of investigation comprised of the patches and inter patches along the transect line, where the mean length of grass patch taking 0.26, shrubs 0.95, litter 0.5 and weed 0.19.The table below shows the mean length from the LFA analysis. Landscape Zone Bare Soil Grass Weed Shrub Litter Total Mean Zone Length (m) 0.00 0.26 0.19 0.95 0.50 % 0.0 56.5 24.3 12.6 6.6 100.0

The proportion coverage in the study site is represented in the graph below. The grass takes the larger proportion I width cover, which implies its dominance in the area, however, bare soil takes a larger cover share.

Grass takes the larger proportion implying that the site is covered by grass, which helps in controlling the surface run off.

Patches Patch zone Grass Weed shrub Total


Width (cm) No 586 544 52 1182

Mean 33 19 2 54 17.8 28.6 26.0 21.9

From the table above, grass cover dominates the site with a width of 586cm as compared to the weed patch with width of 544 cm The table below shows the average number of patches in 10m, patch area index among others Number of Patches/10m Total Patch Area Patch Area Index Landscape Organisation Index Average Interpatch Length (m) Range Interpatch length 35.9 3.7 0.02 0.93 0.50 to

sq. m. m 1.4 m.


The key determinant features in this study are the grass, the shrubs and the weed. The table below shows the proportions held by each feature in the study area. Zone Bare Soil Grass Weed Shrub Litter Total code BS GP WP SP L Fetch 0 8.5 3.65 1.9 1 15.05 No 0 33 19 2 2 56 Mean Proportion % 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.56 56.48 0.19 0.24 24.25 0.95 0.13 12.62 0.50 0.07 6.64 1.90 1 100

This implies that, the grass patches is dominant in this area and during the dry season, this may dry up leaving the land bare and vulnerable to surface run off. 3.2 Soil surface assessment The soil stability under grass patch revealed that the stability is high under it as well as under the weed patch. The table below shows the analysis in LFA.

Stability Features Soil Cover Litter Cover (simple) Cryptogam cover Crust broken-ness Erosion type & severity Deposited materials Surface resist. to disturb. Slake test Total Divide by % Max score 5 10 4 4 4 4 5 4 BG 1 1 1 2 2 4 5 3 19 40 47.50 GP 4 2 1 1 4 4 5 3 24 40 60.00 WP L 4 2ln 3 1 1 3 4 4 2 22 40 55.00 SP 3 1 2 2 4 1 2 15 35 42.86 1 2 3 1 0 4 1 3 15 36 41.67

The infiltration under this assessment was found to be high under the shrub patch and litter, this allows the water and minerals to infiltrate into the soil under it necessitating growth and saturation of the soil. Infiltration/runoff Max Features score Per. basal / canopy cover 4 Litter cover, orig & incorp. 30 Soil surface roughness 5 Slake test 4 Texture 4 Surface resist. to disturb. 10 Total Divide by % BS 1 1 1 3 3 6.6 15.6 57 27.37 GP 4 3 1 3 3 6.6 20.6 57 36.14 WP 3 5.985 4 2 2 1 17.985 57 31.55 L 1 5.985 1 2 2 10 21.985 57 38.57 SP 3 3 1 3 2 10 22 57 38.60

This implies that, the nutrients cycling are high inn this patches. The table below shows the nutrient cycling in these patches.

Nutrient cycling status Features Per. basal / canopy cover Litter cover, orig & incorp. Cryptogam cover Soil surface roughness Total Divide by % Max score 4 30 4 5 BS 1 1 1 1 4 43 9.3 GP 4 3 1 1 9 43 20.9 WP 3 5.985 1 4 13.985 43 32.5 L 1 5.985 1 1 8.985 43 20.9 SP 3 3 3 1 10 43 23.3

4.0 Conclusion The land under investigation is degraded but the degree of degradation is low. The key determinant landscape features are bare soil, grass weed, shrubs and litter under the patches. This features helps in controlling the rate of surface run off in the area, they intercept the soil mass moved, and control the run off speed.

5.0 Reference 1. Brabant P.2010: A land degradation Assessment and Mapping methods; a standard guideline proposal 2. D.J Tongway, N.L Hindley, 2005: Landscape Function Analysis: Procedure for Monitoring and assessing Landscape. 3. D.L Dent and Z.G Bai, 2008: Assessment of land degradation using NASA-GIMMS: A case study in Kenya. 4. Elinor Ostrom et al, 2009: Ageneral framework for analyzing sustainability of social ecological systems


5. Karen Wentzel, 2002: Determination of Overall soil erosion potential in Nsikazi District (MpumalangaProvince, South Africa) Using Remote Sensing and GIS 6. L.C Stringer and M.S Reed, 2006: Land degradation Assessment in Southern Africa: Integrating local and scientific knowledge bases. 7. Michael Stocking and Niamh Murnaghan, 2000: Land degradation guidelines for field Assessment. 8. P.Brabant,S.Darraco, K Egue, V.Simonneuax, 1996: Human Induced land degradation status map of degraded index rating. 9. Peter Ikemefuna, Ezeakund Alaci, Davidson: Analytical Situation of Land degradation and Sustainable Management Strategies in Africa 10. R.J Scholes, 2009 Syndrome of dry land degradation in Southern Africa 11. S.Vetter, 2005: Rangeland at equilibrium and Non-equilibrium: Recent development in the debate. 12. S.Vetter, W.M Goqwana,W.J Bond.W.W Trollope: Effects of Land tenure, geology and topography on vegetation abd soils of two grassland types in South Africa. 13. Taimi Sofia Kaplanga, 2008: A review of Land degradation Assessment Methods 14. Torrion Jessica. A, 2002: Land degradation detection, Mapping and Monitoring in the Lake Naivasha Basin, Kenya

15. Vargas R. R.Omuto C. T.Njeru L. 2007: Land degradation Assessment of a selected study area in Somaliland. The application of LADA-WOCAT Approach FAO-SWALIM, Project Report L-10, Nairobi, Kenya





Kopoch area Local Inhabitants of the study site

Rhodes University Dr. J. Gambiza and the Participants,Nov, 2011

Kapoi in Kopoch site1, Kenya

Kapoch Site 2