Rangeland Restoration by cutting invasive species and grass reseeding and managing grazing [Kenya]

technologies_3381 - Kenya

Completeness: 88%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

This 'Rangeland Restoration' technology is part of a 'Holistic Rangeland Management' approach. It involves clearing of invasive vegetation (predominantly Acacia reficiens) and reseeding with grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) and allowing resting and reduced grazing pressure to rehabilitate degraded communal grazing land.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The 'Rangeland Restoration' technology is applied in degraded sites within the 3,100 Ha 'core conservation area' (an central area with minimised grazing pressure designated for tourism) and 'buffer zone' (an area surrounding the 'core conservation area' with reduced grazing pressure) of the Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy (total area: 9,500 Ha).

The main characteristics are clearing of invasive woody vegetation (predominantly Acacia reficiens) and reseeding with grass (Cenchrus ciliaris). Acacia reficiens (commonly known as red-bark acacia, red thorn or false umbrella tree or thorn) is a native tree or shrub but is considered an invasive species as it can encroach degraded areas with bare and disturbed soil. It is very opportunistic and hardy and can subsequently take over large areas of native vegetation. The invasion can reach a closed or nearly closed canopy with A. reficiens thickets, which are hindering animals to enter and access fodder thus making the area inaccessible for grazing and browsing. Additionally it can be observed that the soil underneath the canopy remains bare and the grass growth seems to be suppressed. As a result the top soil is compacted or forms crusts, which hinder infiltration. During the erratic but heavy rains most of the water flows away as runoff (research in close by areas show that runoff is between 60-80 % of the rainfall) and increases soil erosion and further degradation of the land despite a rather good tree cover. Rangeland grass and fodder productivity in these areas are reduced to a fraction of their potential.
The main activity is the cutting of the trees and shrubs at a height of ~1 m. The main trunks and branches can be used for fencing, temporary house constructions, firewood and charcoal. Most of the cut trees and the remaining branches are used to spread on the bare land where the trees and shrubs are cut. Underneath this dead material the bare soil receives some cover, which creates favorable conditions and microclimate for termites and other fauna in the soil to brake the hard top soil and crust and enable infiltration of the water during the next rains. This allows regrowth of grasses, particularly in the areas protected by the branches. In the following seasons the spread of the grasses can increase also the the area not protected by the branches. Additionally, seeding with Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel-grass or African foxtail grass), a grass species which is native to most of Africa, enhances the growth of a highly valuable fodder grass. Seeds are hand-broadcasted in the treated areas and germinate during the next rainy season. The first greening is visible in the places where the branches and the wood pieces cover the soil. From there the local annual and perennial grasses start colonising and expanding in the following seasons until, ideally, the whole area that has been bare is covered by valuable perennial grasses. Parallel to the cutting and reseeding is reduced grazing pressure and a resting period over at least one dry season, which is facilitated by the fact that treated areas are situated in the core conservation area or in the buffer zone. This involves the cooperation of the members of Kalama Conservancy, who agree to restrict grazing in the buffer zone and more so in the core conservation area. The exact duration that grazing is allowed in each of these two areas varies year to year depending on drought severity and forage availability. Whereas the grazing pressure by livestock can be regulated, there remains uncontrolled grazing by wildlife. The major herbivores are zebra, elephants and a number of different gazelle and antelope species the grazing pressure by wildlife varies but can be substantial at certain times.

Rehabilitating degraded grazing land is the primary purpose of the technology. Other benefits of the technology include: 1) augmented forage availability for the community; 2) increased livestock production; 3) reduced soil erosion and flooding. Land users enjoy these benefits but would like larger areas to be similarly restored. However, the limiting factor is the funding required to pay for labour, which is the major input required for the clearing and reseeding activities. Establishing a market for removing the main stems and producing and selling charcoal is still an opportunity to further explore immediate benefits and cash income in order to pay for the investment into the clearing.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Samburu County

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Acacia reficiens was already selectively cleared traditionally when constructing livestock corrals ('bomas'), but the introduction of more extensive clearing and grass-reseeding to rehabilitate specific areas was facilitated by Northern Rangeland Trust and Grevy's Zebra Trust.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • conserve ecosystem
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Grazing land

Grazing land

Extensive grazing:
  • Semi-nomadic pastoralism
  • Ranching
Animal type:
  • cattle - non-dairy beef
  • cattle - dairy
  • goats
  • camels
  • mules and asses
  • sheep
Products and services:
  • milk
  • meat
Unproductive land

Unproductive land


Bare and/or degraded land


The area has been overused and continuously grazed for a long period of time without given the land and vegetation a break to recover. Thus a vicious spiral developed: the reduced grass cover lead to degradation of the soil to compaction and crusting, reduced infiltration thus reduced runoff and reduced vegetation growth, which in turn increased the pressure on the remaining vegetation and thus more base soil etc.


Number of growing seasons per year: 2
Specify: Rainiy seasons from April to June and from October to December but with high variability in time and amount
Livestock density: likely continuously growing till technology was introduced

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • pastoralism and grazing land management
  • improved ground/ vegetation cover
  • improved plant varieties/ animal breeds

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
  • V4: Replacement or removal of alien/ invasive species
management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
  • Pk: slaking and crusting
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline
  • Bl: loss of soil life
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

A total of 279 hectares were treated with this rangeland restoration technology (clearing invasive Acacia reficiens and reseeding with Cenchrus ciliaris). Treated areas were relatively flat (slope < 5%). A. reficiens were cut ~1 m above the ground and well before the onset of the rains to discourage regeneration. C. ciliaris seeds were hand-broadcast at a rate of ~45 kg/Ha.
Holding membership of multiple community conservancies facilitates the movement between wet season and dry season grazing areas. For example, many of the local communities move their livestock to Losesia, in Sera Conservancy, for dry season grazing. These porous boundaries relieve pressure from Kalama Conservancy during some parts of the year, potentially facilitating recovery of treated areas, but also allows neighbouring communities to access treated areas rendering their grazing management challenging.


Harry Wells



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

279 hectares (total over 6 sites)

other/ national currency (specify):

Kenya Shillings

If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

450 Kenya Shillings

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Clearing Acacia reficiens (cutting and spreading) During dry season, well before the onset of rains to prevent Acacia reficiens regrowth from stump.
2. Reseeding with Cenchrus ciliaris grass seed Prior to the onset of rainy season to maximise germination and establishment of Cenhrus ciliaris..

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Clearing Acacia reficiens person-days 1200.0 450.0 540000.0
Labour Hand-broadcasting Cenchrus ciliaris seeds person-days 1200.0 450.0 540000.0
Equipment Machettes units 40.0 500.0 20000.0
Plant material Cenchrus ciliaris seeds kg 2520.0 50.0 126000.0
Other Transport of workers to and from site litre 600.0 100.0 60000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 1286000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 12732.67
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:

Funding raised by Northern Rangelands Trust and Grezy's Zebra Trust (including USAID and FAO funding).


These are the costs associated a 55 Ha treated area. Six sites of a similar size were treated with similar budgets totalling 279 Ha.

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities


No maintenance activities.

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


No maintenance costs.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Hiring labour, as it was the most costly component.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:

Archer's Post

Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

pH ~7-8.5; SOC 4.7 g/kg of soil; Na ~0.1-0.4 cmolc/kg

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

> 50 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • high
Habitat diversity:
  • medium
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

Rangelands in Kenya are generally characterized by high bio-diversity. The particular sites have been degraded in terms of vegetation ans soils. After the restoration diversity increases but has not reached its full potential.

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Semi-nomadic
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • > 50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • groups/ community
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Kalama Conservancy receives considerable income from the high end tourism (~60% of total income) and donations (~25% of total income).

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • large-scale

communally owned

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


fodder production

Comments/ specify:

due to degradation fodder production before was minimal both for grasses (hardly that survived the grazing pressure) as well as accessible browse material

fodder quality

Comments/ specify:

perennial grasses were brought back

animal production


wood production

Comments/ specify:

cut wood of the invasive species can be used for charcoal production, and construction material. The amount is high but the marketing is still weak, so most of it is left to be spread on the ground

forest/ woodland quality

Comments/ specify:

one dominate invasive wood species was removed to give way for other native species to repopulate the area

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


SLM/ land degradation knowledge


conflict mitigation


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff

Comments/ specify:

There is still potential to decrease runoff further as the system is still recovering and improving.


soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover


biomass/ above ground C


plant diversity


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding


downstream siltation


damage on public/ private infrastructure

Comments/ specify:

damage on major bridges but also on smaller within the conservancy

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase moderately

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm very well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • single cases/ experimental
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Land that was previously considered unproductive is now considered grazing land.
Increased infiltration and decreased runoff and water erosion.
Recolonisation by local grasses and forbs to replace reseeded Cenchrus ciliaris after 1-2 years provides nutritious forage (particularly the forbs) for livestock.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Decreased impact of the invasive Acacia reficiens on vegetation and soil within treated areas.
Increased biomass of herbaceous vegetation for livestock and wildlife forage.
Augmented biodiversity after reseeded Cenchrus ciliaris replaced by local grasses and forbs.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Creates overly high expectations from the community regarding the potential to restore larger areas. Raise awareness among community members regarding the limitations of large-scale restoration.
Lack of funds to pay labourers. Paying community members to undertake restoration activities rather than these activities being voluntary is now, in hindsight, perceived to have been a mistake. There will never be enough funding as labourers will continue to expect ever-increasing wages. However, over time, community members may decide to restore land voluntarily. Explore the potential for marketing the main trunks for charcoal production of firewood to pay for the labourers.
Controlling grazing in recovering areas. Raise awareness about the restoration projects within immediate and neighbouring communities. Also, ensure grazing by-laws are implemented and offenders fined.
Land users unwilling to voluntarily take part in restoration activities. Increase ownership by conducting restoration projects at more local zonal-levels rather than at the conservancy-level. Create additional incentives by using and marketing of some of the wood material (for legal charcoal production)
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Inability to provide adequate rest to treated areas (i.e. by controlling grazing pressure) leading to unsuccessful establishment of Cenchrus ciliaris or other herbaceous vegetation in treated areas, particularly in 'buffer zone'. Implement grazing rules more stringently.
Lack of capacity regarding how to reseed Cenchrus ciliaris in some treated areas. In one case, seeds were buried (as farmers do with maize seeds), which is reported to have contributed to low establishment success of C. ciliaris seeds. Capacity building.
Germination and establishment of Cenchrus ciliaris depends on timing in relation to the onset of rains, which are unpredictable and led to unsuccessful rehabilitation of some treated areas. Provide most accurate weather forecasts available.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys

2 field visits to the sites

  • interviews with land users

3 informants

  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation

1 report

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

'Northern Rangeland Trust: Baseline assessment of rangeland health - Kalama and Namunyak conservancies', Tor-G. Vågen & Leigh A. Winowiecki, 2014

Available from where? Costs?

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:

Northern Rangeland Trust: Baseline assessment of rangeland health - Kalama and Namunyak conservancies


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