Rangeland Assessment and Monitoring Service
The Kenyan rangelands through livestock production, contribute to over 12% of the 40% Agricultural GDP with further contribution through the tourism sector. They cover over 70% of the country and are home to both wildlife and pastoral communities. With dependence on rain-fed pastures, better management of the rangelands require near real time information on available resources. While information on vegetation conditions is important, other critical resources such as location of water, extent of unpalatable foliage (invasive species) and other ancillary information is required for a comprehensive understanding of the condition of the rangelands. With a changing climate, an assessment of the vegetation productivity is critical in identifying degradation hotspots, but also monitoring areas where re-greening due to rehabilitation efforts has occurred.
Initially, the service was developed in response to a request from Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) during the Entebbe 2015 consultations with key USAID partners where they expressed the need for a monitoring system to enable them identify degraded areas and monitor areas where restoration efforts had been implemented.
In 2016 SERVIR E&SA further engaged NRT and LWF to improve the service. Baseline land degradation maps were developed and field validation data was collected. However, on assessing the outputs, NRT suggested that indicators of vegetation productivity would be more appropriate in assessing both vegetation degradation and for monitoring restoration efforts where re-greening has occurred at the conservancy level. SERVIR E&SA developed the methodology for assessing vegetation productivity and presented the draft long term vegetation productivity maps to NRT stakeholders during a meeting at the RCMRD offices on 3rd February, 2017. With the consensus that from the maps it was easy to identify areas with declining or improving vegetation conditions, the way forward was to develop near real time and seasonal products that can be interpreted by non-GIS users for decision making. The feedback was incorporated during the design of the workflow for the rangelands web tool to ensure that users are able to understand indicators available, combine with other relevant datasets to produce a map at a desired administrative level that is relevant for local decision making.
In addition to NRT and LWF, other potential users of the service are National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kenya Wildlife Service, Mpala Research Centre (MRC), CETRAD, ILRI, PREG partners, County Governments, NDMA county officers, grazing coordinators, conservancy managers, local conservation groups, ranch owners and managers and local communities.
The main objective of the service is to facilitate near real time assessment and monitoring of rangeland resources by developing a web based tool that will aggregate key indicators to rangeland productivity with ancillary data and allow for integration of user selected indicators to produce maps at different administrative and conservancy boundaries. The service will also develop surface water maps as an input to the web based tool using GEE methodologies.