Tropical Grasslands (2006) Volume 40, 33–39

The effects of physical environment on the condition of rangelands in Borana

AYANA ANGASSA1, ADUGNA TOLERA1 AND ATILAW BELAYNEH2

1Debub University, Awassa College of Agriculture, Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Awassa, Ethiopia
2Borana Pastoral Development Project, Yabello, Borana

Abstract

This study was carried out to assess the effect of season, elevation, bush encroachment and location on the condition of the rangelands in Borana. A survey was conducted during the long and short rainy seasons of 1998 at a time when most grass species were at full flowering stage on a government ranch and 6 communal grazing areas. Each of the study areas covered 3 elevation zones: low (1250–1500 m), medium (1500–1650 m) and high (1650–2000 m). The assessment of range condition was based on the botanical composition of the herbaceous layer, basal cover, litter cover, relative number of seedlings, size distribution of dominant grasses and soil condition. The overall results showed that season, bush encroachment and location of the rangeland had significant effects on condition of the rangelands. Overall range condition scores were higher during the long rainy season than in the short rainy season and in range sites that were not affected by bush encroachment. Moreover, the total range condition score was higher on the ranch than in some communal grazing areas. Expansion of cultivation for crop production, establishment of permanent sources of water and permanent settlement were considered to be the main contributing factors to the relatively lower condition scores observed in the communal grazing areas because of increased grazing pressure.

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