Restoring African degraded landscapes with plant biodiversity and livestock management

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre

Abstract

Across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) approximately 660 million hectares of land is degraded, leading to low land productivity, poor and variable biomass production, inability to graze livestock and lack of resilience of agriculture to climate extremes. Land degradation is a major factor in the instability of crop and livestock production, leading to a significant burden of food and income security.

Extensive forest areas of East Africa have been converted to grasslands and to agriculture, largely driven by the expansion of crop-livestock farming, a preferred livelihood option in these regions to minimize the impacts of climatic risks. Once land is converted for agriculture, a combination of low input of nutrients and high grazing pressure, with social and climatic changes leads to this land becoming degraded. Once degraded is it extremely difficult to recover the functionality of the land leading to a downward spiral of productivity and resulting in systems that are less resilient to climate extremes. Local farmers, who rely on livestock for their livelihoods, seek new land for grazing within natural ecosystems. As a consequence, high livestock densities have led to larger loads of nutrients and sediments entering water systems and are releasing greater emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.

Land restoration must be a priority if we are to secure future food supplies, and protect high carbon and high biodiversity ecosystems across East Africa. This project seeks to explore the use of a novel combination of different local grassland plants species, coupled with new livestock management models to help farming communities in Kenya to recover degraded grazing lands. Working in partnership with local farmers and community based organisations, the project team aims to improve grassland productivity, thereby increasing the quality of livestock fodder, and nutrient content of manure. This will lead to restored functionality of soils for future plant production and a greater degree of resilience to future climate shocks.

Specifically, this interdisciplinary project will use a multi-scale approach to:

1) Study the primary productivity and state of degradation of land at two contrasting sites of the densely populated highlands of Kenya;

2) Explore the biological and socio-ecological characteristics of these different sites and use complimentary field and plot scale studies to identify the mechanisms involved in a process of successful restoration using plant biodiversity and;

3) Explore alternative management and regulatory scenarios with local farmers and stakeholders, highlighting the benefits for livestock production and for ecosystem conservation.

4) Engage key stakeholders to understand restoration needs and constraints and to build the necessary capacity

Halting and reversing land degradation in Africa is urgent given the projections of human population increase, the large proportion of the African population living in a rural setting, and the prominence of agriculture as a source of income across the continent. Single interventions such as increasing mineral fertiliser use or the supplementation of livestock feeds are unlikely to be sufficient to achieve nutritional security given the large scale of the problem, and the increases in productivity and new land that may be required. Protecting natural ecosystems such as forests and grasslands, and restoring soil resilience is also needed to reduce negative feedbacks on the regional climate system including livestock production of greenhouse gases and buffering negative impacts of climate change on the water cycle.

Technical Summary

The large extend of degraded land across Africa leads to stagnation in food production, poor livestock feed quality and lack of resilience of farming to climate shocks. In areas of high agro-ecological potential like the East African highlands, there is an urgent need to design and implement restoration approaches alongside agricultural intensification. This project aims to reverse trends of land degradation by exploiting plant biodiversity and livestock management to accelerate restoration, and boost livestock productivity. We hypothesize that mixtures of species with different functional traits combined with moderated grazing, can be successfully used by communities in the highlands of Kenya to restore their degraded grasslands.
This interdisciplinary project will use a multi-scale approach to i) study primary productivity and landscape-level degradation in two contrasting sites; ii) characterise the biological and socio-ecological determinants of degradation and use complementary field and plot scale studies to identify mechanisms involved in a process of restoration exploiting biodiversity; and iii) explore alternative management and regulatory scenarios quantifying the benefits for livestock production and ecosystem conservation. WP1 will identify stages degradation and their association with ecosystem functioning, and livestock management measuring soil and vegetation characteristics, feed quality, and livestock management. WP2 will test the potential for selected plant species and species mixtures to accelerate and restore the functioning in degraded soils. WP3 will define opportunities to manage landscape-level interactions to support restoration and livelihoods through a validation of alternative scenarios. WP4 will ensure that the research addresses farming communities needs and that findings feed into appropriate fora at multiple levels. The project will design a multi-scale action plan for restoration, a model relevant for the highlands of East Africa.

Planned Impact

We aim to reverse trends of grazing land degradation by exploiting plant biodiversity and livestock management to accelerate grassland restoration, and boost livestock productivity and ecosystem conservation. To achieve this, we designed an impact pathway that identifies stakeholders, and envisaged intermediate and end-of the project outcomes. The impact plan will to enable key stakeholders to use the knowledge, tools and analysis developed to deal with the restoration of degraded grazing lands. The core impact of this project will be based on the combination of excellent biophysical research, the development of metrics to diagnose and monitor land degradation, new knowledge on plant species diversity and traits, and dedicated knowledge exchange (KE) to map needs and constraints and to build capacity. The impact pathway is built on the idea that land degradation affects livelihoods by reducing livestock productivity and the value of livestock assets, increasing feeding costs and by increasing competition for arable land between food and feed crops. In addition, degradation affects neighbouring ecosystems by increasing pressures due to grazing, creating competition with wildlife and preventing regeneration. We hypothesise that the poor management of grazing lands is the result of capacity and knowledge gaps.

To increase the likelihood to achieve impact, the research will address real needs from the farming communities of the study area; the findings will feed into appropriate fora at national and regional, and international levels, and the project will monitor the impact of activities. We will target stakeholders from five categories: i) grassland users and grassland managers, ii) community based organisations (CBOs), iii) ecosystem-level managing actors, iv) universities who provide training in natural resources management, v) research organisations.
The current mapping of project stakeholders comes from the project partners and their ongoing projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The partners have in addition a network of implementing partners including government officials, legislators, NGOs and community-based organizations. This list of stakeholders will be expanded through surveys purposively designed to focus on grazing land degradation.

Key knowledge outputs for impact activities will include: i) Land degradation maps used during stakeholder meetings to discuss institutional factors that may drive degradation processes; ii) Metrics of restoration used during KE events to build capacity to recognise landscapes that can be restored; iii) New knowledge on plant traits will be used to show the potential for restoration using local plant biodiversity. We will produce infographics to be distributed through social media to increase awareness on the connection between livestock productivity and land degradation. From the institutional analyses, stakeholders will be able to understand variations in degradation status with tenure/property rights, investments in grazing management and land management and implications of land degradation on gender.

To measure the impact of the activities, stakeholders should have: i) increased their capacity to select landscapes that can be restored, ii) CBOs understood recommendations emerging from the project, iii) stakeholders learnt how to monitor a recovering soil and the plant species that can help the process, and iv) stakeholders recognise the properties that dictate whether a grassland is recovering or not. During the community feedback workshops participants will diagnose knowledge gaps to be addressed through dedicated KE events and training, outreach through engagement with the media, and the co-development of multi-stakeholder future action plan for restoration. KE at international level will be done by project members attending conferences and organising one dedicated stakeholder session in 2020 at the Global Landscape Forum organised by CIFOR and partners every year.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Land Restoration Animation 
Description A short 3 minute animation was created by FuturumCareers/SciComm Consulting to be used alongside an educational article they published. The article and animation was focussed at teenagers in a secondary school setting and provides an opportunity for students to engage with real life science research. The animation covers explains the science and the engagement objectives of the project and hints to the research findings in an engaging and simple way, as a means of aiding visual learners. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact This section will be updated next year when we have monitored how the animation was downloaded and used by schools and Kenya and in the UK. A dedicated webpage is being created for the ReDEAL resources at https://futurumcareers.com/ 
 
Title ReDEAL film 
Description A Redeal film was created by a Kenyan film team to highlight the main project activities. The film told a compelling story which focussed on the perceptions of farmers local to the project sites, of degradation and land changes. The film highlighted the importance of utilising indigenous knowledge when it comes to designing restoration interventions and the importance of bottom-up approaches and accounting for the socio-economic constraints in the area. It also provided information into the restoration experiments which have taken place. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact The film conveys the project activities, aims and objectives in an easily comprehendible and engaging manner which has meant we have been able to show this at various outreach events. It has become a nice tool for increasing awareness of the issues of grassland degradation and interest in the project. This has culminated in students from local schools giving the project team their opinions on the project and advice as to how to take the research forward. These students have provided insight into ideas for bridging the knowledge-action gap and encouraging more young people into green careers that focus on mitigating environmental issues. The film has also drawn attention to the project and it is hoped that this will encourage funders within Africa to continue this necessary work once the project terminates. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnVGWz9nVFI&t=4s
 
Title Youth opinion film 
Description A film has been produced that showcases highlights from an outreach event held at Lancaster University on the 16th November 2021 and a set of interviews with local school students held immediately after. The film also contains some footage of the research project in Kenya. The film focusses on a group of students from the Lancaster Royal Grammar School and from Ripley school at Lancaster who interrogate the main researchers on the project. They ask questions surrounding the project's future, the importance of bottom-up approaches and the moral obligation to tackle climate change and to help in the African continent. The film covers the best of these questions and also the responses from the researchers. Additionally, the film highlights their opinions on their role in tackling climate change. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact This film has increased enquiries to the project mailbox from students across the UK. These have included requests for involvement in lab work at Lancaster University and interest in pursuing agricultural degrees at the University. These requests have been from a mixed background of students and include requests from both genders. 
 
Description The research consisted of an assessment of soil and vegetation through surveys and greenhouse experiments looking at the impact of different soil types and legacies of grassland degradation on the performance of native plant species and consequent ecosystem functions for two sites in the highlands of Western Kenya. The aim was to identify key species that may be used to reduce or reverse degradation in soils, and the soil properties that promote restoration. Experiments characterised the functional traits of plant species selected on the basis of local knowledge and their potential to promote soil functions that underpin the restoration of degraded land. The two experiments were field-based mesocosms and tested the potential for combinations of plant-trait based groups to enhance recovery of degraded soils. Experiments were completed and preliminary data analysis showed that six of the 18 selected grassland species perform well in degraded soils, and that this is related to their capacity to recycle nitrogen to the roots and to quickly build leaf area. The project established two long-term restoration sites in farmers' fields that will be assessed by our Kenyan partners (University of Kabianga and the International Livestock Research Institute ILRI), these sites test the robustness and validity of the preliminary findings of the research.

The integrated dataset of the project combines biophysical (soil, vegetation, livestock) and socio-economic variables and landscape-level variables that characterise land cover and primary productivity. Preliminary findings provide insight into the patterns of land ownership and management associated with degradation across the two study areas. Whilst there is little communal land in either area, reflecting a wider trend towards sub-division and privatisation, the area with the highest concentration of degraded land also has a higher prevalence of land inheritance rather than ownership through title. This could reflect a less mobile human population and different histories of ownership and use. The survey also indicates that whilst customary practice governs how land is used, local institutions and authorities that define rules for livestock management are weak and poorly adapted to changing circumstances. There are important differences in gendered roles associated with livestock management in which men tend to have authority over major decisions whilst women often direct day-to-day management. This suggests that successful efforts for restoring degraded lands will require a clear understanding of how tenure rights influence local decision-making and engage with both male and female members of communities.

In sum, we are exploring the biological mechanisms of plant performance in soils of varying quality and the socio-historical patterns of land and livestock management associated with degradation. We are also gaining insight into how initiatives aiming to address land degradation in these areas of Kenya should take account of current farmer practice and customs.
Exploitation Route We anticipate that our findings about key plant species, and their interactions with modes of grazing management in achieving successful long-term grassland management will be taken forward in Kenya by a) the farmers, elders and community members (NGOs, CBOs) with whom we are working and to whom we plan to feedback; b) the varied stakeholder organisations with whom we are also engaging (council environmental officers); c) researchers who investigate avenues to commercialize the production of seeds of native grassland species for landscape restoration.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment

 
Description The project started in 2019 a conversation with local farming communities drawing attention to the value of diversity of plants in combination with livestock management as a way to address land degradation and ensure long-term livestock viability. Our field research and interaction with farmers initiated a vivid dialogue around grassland management within the community. The survey of 339 households in ReDEAL's sites found that farmers relate land degradation to soil erosion and changing soil fertility, with considerable variation as to whether these problems were perceived as serious. Many respondents noted increases in 'weeds' as problematic and during participatory work with community representatives, it appeared that weeds were more of a concern for croplands and not for pasture. Validation workshops with 77 participants were organised to ensure inclusivity and participation by the community. We discovered that farmers are keen to know which species can be used to better manage their land, how to identify plants that would provide better feed during dry seasons, how to recognise different kinds of soils and how to control invasive species. Farmers reported that lack of technical advice was the main constrain to the adoption of land management strategies, claiming that lack of knowledge leads to seek quick gains through the application of chemicals for weed control. ReDEAL developed new links with a range of national government and education organisations, including through representatives on the Advisory Board. These networks have helped to tailor future research, will widen the dissemination of the project's findings, and inform how to frame the findings in response to existing local, regional and national concerns and priorities. One particular area of potential impact is the project contribution to the systematic knowledge of the grassland species of East Africa. ReDEAL has been in discussion with the National Museum of Kenya regarding their collections, and are helping to supplement them. Another important area of impact is building capacity for soil and plant research within Kenya. ReDEAL established a new soil lab and greenhouse at the University of Kabianga in Kenya. Along with training technicians and researchers who worked on the current project, the facility provides a lasting opportunity to train more people and conduct research. ReDEAL delivered two training courses related to soil restoration attended by undergraduates, post graduates and research staff and representatives from civil society, government and NGOs. Students of University of Kabianga are also using the new facilities, which have boosted teaching capacity across a number of courses. Training and use of the new facilities has encouraged equal access as evidenced by the gender balance of those so far involved. It is expected the University of Kabianga will continue delivering the soil restoration course in the future, since materials are available on their online platform. The facilities, and the involvement by the University of Kabianga in ReDEAL has also boosted its capacity to form local and regional partnerships that aim to promote sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. For instance, they are currently in discussion regarding hosting a regional research centre of excellence on behalf of the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB), a partnership of 14 counties. Training was extended to members of the public including training enumerators for the administration of the household surveys. ReDEAL engaged local stakeholders and farmers to understand current land and pasture management and to develop future scenarios and to discuss driving forces for the scenarios. One of the important factors in landuse and pasture management is property size. With smaller properties and little communal lands, farmers seek alternative pasture sources such as roadsides, communal land areas or renting pastureland. Farmers were interested in adopting pasture management strategies and increasing fodder crops but reported that they lacked information to do this efficiently, and therefore continuous training and engagement must be an integral part of research projects. ReDEAL will help increase youth engagement in grassland degradation and more generally, environmental change. This will be achieved through the wide dissemination of a science article made available to teenagers, regardless of gender and social class, in school systems across the world, including Kenya. This article helps to provide insight into projects like ReDEAL and raises awareness of environmental issues facing our planet by providing details on real world solutions and case studies. It also provides guidance on how to work within the field of agricultural sciences and activities to help develop analytical skills. As the young generation will be largely responsible for solving environmental problems, creating this resource is also taking a step forward for sustainability and provides the impetus for young people to pursue green jobs and to focus technology on solving urgent environmental matters. It is thus plausible that this will in time perform an important part of post-covid green economic recovery. In terms of Sustainable Development Goals, ReDEAL contributes towards reversing land degradation (Goal 15) whilst supporting decent work (Goal 8) through sustainable land-based livelihoods and reducing inequalities (Goal 10) in areas with a high proportion of degraded land. ReDEAL is sensitive to gender equality (Goal 5). In particular, the surveys were designed to take gender differences in resource access, roles and responsibilities into consideration: it interviewed male and female household members separately. Dissemination workshops and meetings were organised to ensure broad participation by both females and males. One of the topics where we did gender disaggregated analysis in the household survey is on tenure rights. Overall, men have fuller land rights compared to women. For example, relatively few women reported that they had the right to rent out land or transfer rights to a designated heir. ReDEAL will help gain insight into how initiatives aiming to address land degradation in East Africa should consider farmer practice, customs and gender matters to identify inclusive and sustainable restoration strategies.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description COP 26 Blog
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Course Restoration of degraded lands for climate resilience
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Soil Carbon Change Monitoring
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Training of enumerators
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Training of lab technicians at University of Kabianga
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Following installation of laboratory equipment at the University of Kabianga in February 2020, funded through the project, two technicians from another partner organisation, ILRI, trained staff at the University on how to operate and maintain the equipment and on good laboratory practice and record keeping. Six technicians from across the University (School of Natural Resource and Environmental Management, School of Science and Technology, and School of Agriculture and Biotechnology) received training. The lab and accompanying skills boost research and training capacity at the University of Kabianga, and will be instrumental in providing a forthcoming course on basic soil science methods for researchers, practitioners and post-graduates, which is being organised as part of this project.
URL https://mazingira.ilri.org/2020/04/07/setting-up-a-soil-analytical-laboratory-at-university-of-kabia...
 
Description COVID 19 Grant Extension Allocation Lancaster University
Amount £3,022,366 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V520500/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 09/2021
 
Description Fast-tracking restoration of tropical degraded grasslands: developing the science-based evidence
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 07/2021
 
Title Household survey 
Description The CIFOR team (a partner on the project) came up with a set of questions regarding household characteristics, livelihoods grazing and land management practices and perceptions of resource degradation. These questions contributed to a full household survey. The survey was completed for both project sites (Nyando and Kuresoi) by February 2021. This survey is a follow-up to a short scoping survey of ERU households conducted in early 2020 at both project sites. To draw the sample for the full survey, a two-stage systematic sampling technique was used. First, seven Nyando villages of sufficient size where ERU sites were located were purposefully selected, and where elders had given consent for the survey. With the assistance of village elders a household census list was developed, and 21 households were randomly from each village. This produced an initial sample of 147 households. Parallel to the full survey, an intra-household survey was administered that gathered information from spouses, focusing on a sub-set of questions about their involvement in land management and perceptions of degradation drivers. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The surveys have allowed for a detailed understanding of land-management affecting the research sites, what land owners know and how they respond to the questions, revealing potential gaps in understanding of, and the basis for modelling, significant factors in land degradation. It also started conversations about what constitutes good grazing practice and what support, in terms of extra advice and information, farmers themselves are looking for in order to better manage their land. This will help inform how we feedback our findings and offer further engagement activities with participating farmers and local communities. 
 
Title Livestock and land management surveys 
Description The CIFOR and ILRI teams in Kenya developed a set of bespoke set questionnaires to gather information on farm property, herd characteristics, livestock management practices, management of grazing lands and property rights. An initial scoping survey tool provided a baseline for understanding the research sites and has identified topics requiring more in-depth data collection which have subsequently been investigated through i) a detailed grazing and manure management survey of farmers hosting the research sites in the Kuresoi and Nyando regions of Western Kenya and ii) a full tenure, livelihood and land management survey conducted with the wider communities in the areas surrounding the sites. The latter included a specialised sorting exercise of the local plant species to illicit understandings of which species are valued for grazing and which, if any, might be associated with maintaining or restoring the quality of the land. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The surveys have allowed for a detailed understanding of land-management affecting the research sites, what land owners know and how they respond to the questions, revealing potential gaps in understanding of, and the basis for modelling, significant factors in land degradation. It also started conversations about what constitutes good grazing practice and what support, in terms of extra advice and information, farmers themselves are looking for in order to better manage their land. This will help inform how we feedback our findings and offer further engagement activities with participating farmers and local communities. 
 
Title Characterisation of Gross Primary Productivity of Vegetation in Project Sites 
Description The regional characterisation of Gross Primary Productivity was completed using MODIS Imagery (MOD13Q1) (spatial resolution 231m, temporal resolution monthly) for the period 2000-2021. The spectral indices included enhanced vegetation index and normalised difference vegetation index. Software used included Google Earth Engine, R 4.1 and Studio "Ghost Orchid". In time, an adaptative Savitsky-Golay model will be applied to the characterisation in order to fill missing data and smooth seasonal dynamics assuming a preliminary bi-modal seasonality. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This characterisation has allowed the research team to assess levels of degradation across the two project sites. Gross Primary Productivity can be used as an indicator for soil functioning and health. As such, the classification of the ERUs can be checked against this characterisation which provides an important data control mechanism. Additionally, it is possible to link long-term GPP temporal dynamics with land management practices in MODIS pixels to further understand the relationships between the two. 
 
Title Database on farmer species knowledge 
Description CIFOR, who led WP3, have compiled a database using data from their pile sorting card exercise with farmers in Nyando and Kuresoi. The database includes information on grassland species known by these farmers, preferred species for using as pasture as well as reasons for this, species liked and disliked by cattle (considered palatable), species preferred for soil fertility and soil functioning. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is pivotal in providing an insight into farmer knowledge about the potential of grassland species for restoration in the project sites. This knowledge will be used for designing restoration interventions that are economically and socially feasible and can be maintained when the project finishes. The grassland species identified by the farmers are currently being compared against the plant species database which identified plant traits that can be utilised to restore soil functioning. The species are also being compared to those found in the vegetation data collections in the project sites across all stages of degradation. These datasets will be the basis to select a mixture of plant species which are suitable in both project sites to restore degraded grasslands. 
 
Title Future Scenarios 
Description CIFOR conducted Future Scenario development workshops in Nyando and Kuresoi between the 24th of February and the 1st of March 2022 to develop 'vision scenarios' describing well managed farms and the factors contributed to these ideal outcomes. Each workshop was attended by 16 participants, including government representatives (the Kericho and Kisumu County governments), village elders from selected villages, farmer representatives drawn from water resource user associations (Asawo WRUA), and two Community Based Associations (CBOs), and institutions such as Kenyan Forest Service. Participants also included village elders from selected villages and farmer representatives drawn from community forest and water associations. The workshops consisted of a series of participatory activities to facilitate the development of future scenarios focused on an 'ideal farm' representing real farms in the region. To define the system and ensure that participants were all using the same frame of reference, the first part of these workshops consisted of developing brief descriptions of this hypothetical farm. For the second half of the workshop, the facilitators led the participants in exercises to identify key drivers of change and factors presenting barriers and opportunities for farmers in the region. Finally, participants worked in small groups to develop a Vision Scenario of the ideal farm 10 years in the future if all had gone well and the farm prospered. The participants examined these models to describe how they have developed and what decisions or drivers and influenced the outcome. The exercise was intended generate information on local stakeholders' views of processes and conditions in the region that influence land management. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact NA 
 
Title Integrated dataset of ReDEAL work packages 
Description Lancaster University (PDRA German Baldi) has developed an integrated dataset which covers most of the data collected by all WPs in the ReDEAL project. This dataset covers soil characteristic data from 90 individual plots across sites, which signifies levels of degradation, vegetation data which highlights the ability of certain species to restore degraded soils, livestock and manure management and the socioeconomic data gathered from the household surveys. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact By creating this integrated dataset, the project team can examine the inter-relationships between the bio-physical soil and vegetation data and the socio-economic data on farm tenure, livestock management etc. These analyses will help the team to answer their overall hypotheses and to achieve the research aims. The results from the analyses will also form the basis of the papers from this project which will enable the communication of the research findings to the wider public. 
 
Title Plant species database 
Description WP1 and WP2 built a database of plant species in the Kericho and Nyando areas of Kenya, initially based on a book by A.D.Q. Agnew and a databases held by the National Museums of Kenya, in combination with other databases and online sources, to detail habitat preferences, morphological characteristics, and the grazing tolerance of local plant species. Researchers at the University of Manchester and ILRI in Kenya have been involved in developing this database, and are collaborating with a botanist at the National Museums of Kenya East African Herbarium. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This has so far made possible the identification and selection of local plant species found in our study areas. As we build our own database, we are also extending that held by the East African Herbarium at the National Museums of Kenya: we have collected a number of species that they had not previously encountered. 
 
Title Regional Characterisation of land cover structure 
Description Land cover in the project sites was categorised using PlanetScope Imagery at a spatial resolution of 3m and a daily temporal resolution. Multiscale segmentation and classification of surface characteristics used an Object Based Image Analysis Approach. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This characterisation is vital in order to detect signs of soil erosion within fields (e.g. bare soil, gullies). The process aims to characterise land cover at two conceptual levels, describing the type e.g. cropland, grassland etc and the ERU classification i.e. equilibrium, transition and degraded. As a consequence of this, the landscape structural traits can be linked to the GPP temporal dynamics and this allows for an exploration into the inverse relationship between field size and productive performances. 
 
Title Timeseries Satellite Mapping 
Description The PDRA at Lancaster University compiled a database of very high to high resolution satellite imagery taken between 2008 and 2018 for two areas in Kenya (in the Kuresoi and Nyando regions). This imagery was used to determine the different states of degradation in TIMESAT algorithm (Eklundh and Jönsson, 2015) and to classify the natural vegetation responses to environmental change over time. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This allowed for the pre-selection of potential sampling sites across different states of degradation. The data was then used in Kenya by researchers from Lancaster University and ILRI (Kenya) to "ground-truth" the potential sites and verify their state against a list of vegetation and land characteristics (such as patches of bare soil or amount of grass cover) before a final determination of Ecological Response Units (ERUs) for inclusion in the study. 
URL https://dx.doi.org/10.17635/lancaster/researchdata/347
 
Description ReDEAL project team 
Organisation Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Country Indonesia 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Lancaster University provided the overall leadership and project management. The PI (at Lancaster University) is also responsible for achieving deliverables, implementing the impact pathway and disseminating outputs. In addition, she leads the landscape-level mapping in WP1 and the modelling in WP3, and supervised three PDRA. The Co-I based at Lancaster (John Quinton) is responsible for the soil assessments in WP1 and led on training of the research assistants at partner organisations. One PDRA (GY) conducted spatial modelling of landscape change and dynamic modelling of management and restoration scenarios. An additional, 1-year research associate (CM) assisted with soil analysis of samples shipped from Kenya due to covid19 travel restrictions. A seconded scientist (GB) has been instrumental compiling the comprehensive multi-disciplinary project database. Lancaster University also provided the main administrative function covering agreements, financial management, activity monitoring and reporting, the website and organising meetings.
Collaborator Contribution ILRI led WP1 and carried out the vegetation and livestock mapping, feed quality and grazing behaviour analysis and supported the selection of research sites and gained consent from landowners and local communities. Due to travel restrictions for the UK team, they also took on the soil sampling task engaging FW from KALRO, dispatching samples to the UK for analysis, and conducting some soil analysis. The University of Manchester led WP2 (Co-I Richard Bardgett) and providing guidance on vegetation analyses in WP1, as well as guiding data analyses and interpretation, and the design of high impact publications. The team at Manchester participated in the training and knowledge exchange events organized by WP4. The PDRA was responsible for the mesocosm experiments and contributing to soil assessments of WP1. CIFOR led WP3 focusing on household recruitment, surveys and focus groups to assess land-use and livestock practices, review of policy and institutional frameworks, and participatory prospective analysis to assess alternative management scenarios. The University of Kabianga led WP4 on engagement and capacity building, including outreach and knowledge exchange events for practitioners, community and students in Kenya. It also hosted and organised project workshops and advisory board meetings. In addition, a PDRA post contributed to the soil assessments of WP1 and WP2 and a technician supported the work in WP2, including hosting and helping with the mesocosm experiments which has been critical due to travel restrictions for the UK team.
Impact The primary collaborative outputs have been in the characterisation of these grassland ecosystems and the engagement of local Kenyan communities, including village elders, land-owners and stakeholder organisations, which has been key to gaining participation in the project and also instrumental in outreach and dissemination work. Results are also being analysed of a mesocosm experiment which was dependent on collaboration between University of Manchester and University of Kabianga. Similarly, the soil sampling and soil analysis work was conducted across partners (Lancaster, ILRI and Manchester). The project is multi-disciplinary and involves soil science, microbiology, plant ecology, environmental science, livestock and agricultural systems and social science, including anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description ReDEAL project team 
Organisation International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Country Kenya 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Lancaster University provided the overall leadership and project management. The PI (at Lancaster University) is also responsible for achieving deliverables, implementing the impact pathway and disseminating outputs. In addition, she leads the landscape-level mapping in WP1 and the modelling in WP3, and supervised three PDRA. The Co-I based at Lancaster (John Quinton) is responsible for the soil assessments in WP1 and led on training of the research assistants at partner organisations. One PDRA (GY) conducted spatial modelling of landscape change and dynamic modelling of management and restoration scenarios. An additional, 1-year research associate (CM) assisted with soil analysis of samples shipped from Kenya due to covid19 travel restrictions. A seconded scientist (GB) has been instrumental compiling the comprehensive multi-disciplinary project database. Lancaster University also provided the main administrative function covering agreements, financial management, activity monitoring and reporting, the website and organising meetings.
Collaborator Contribution ILRI led WP1 and carried out the vegetation and livestock mapping, feed quality and grazing behaviour analysis and supported the selection of research sites and gained consent from landowners and local communities. Due to travel restrictions for the UK team, they also took on the soil sampling task engaging FW from KALRO, dispatching samples to the UK for analysis, and conducting some soil analysis. The University of Manchester led WP2 (Co-I Richard Bardgett) and providing guidance on vegetation analyses in WP1, as well as guiding data analyses and interpretation, and the design of high impact publications. The team at Manchester participated in the training and knowledge exchange events organized by WP4. The PDRA was responsible for the mesocosm experiments and contributing to soil assessments of WP1. CIFOR led WP3 focusing on household recruitment, surveys and focus groups to assess land-use and livestock practices, review of policy and institutional frameworks, and participatory prospective analysis to assess alternative management scenarios. The University of Kabianga led WP4 on engagement and capacity building, including outreach and knowledge exchange events for practitioners, community and students in Kenya. It also hosted and organised project workshops and advisory board meetings. In addition, a PDRA post contributed to the soil assessments of WP1 and WP2 and a technician supported the work in WP2, including hosting and helping with the mesocosm experiments which has been critical due to travel restrictions for the UK team.
Impact The primary collaborative outputs have been in the characterisation of these grassland ecosystems and the engagement of local Kenyan communities, including village elders, land-owners and stakeholder organisations, which has been key to gaining participation in the project and also instrumental in outreach and dissemination work. Results are also being analysed of a mesocosm experiment which was dependent on collaboration between University of Manchester and University of Kabianga. Similarly, the soil sampling and soil analysis work was conducted across partners (Lancaster, ILRI and Manchester). The project is multi-disciplinary and involves soil science, microbiology, plant ecology, environmental science, livestock and agricultural systems and social science, including anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description ReDEAL project team 
Organisation University of Kabianga
Country Kenya 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lancaster University provided the overall leadership and project management. The PI (at Lancaster University) is also responsible for achieving deliverables, implementing the impact pathway and disseminating outputs. In addition, she leads the landscape-level mapping in WP1 and the modelling in WP3, and supervised three PDRA. The Co-I based at Lancaster (John Quinton) is responsible for the soil assessments in WP1 and led on training of the research assistants at partner organisations. One PDRA (GY) conducted spatial modelling of landscape change and dynamic modelling of management and restoration scenarios. An additional, 1-year research associate (CM) assisted with soil analysis of samples shipped from Kenya due to covid19 travel restrictions. A seconded scientist (GB) has been instrumental compiling the comprehensive multi-disciplinary project database. Lancaster University also provided the main administrative function covering agreements, financial management, activity monitoring and reporting, the website and organising meetings.
Collaborator Contribution ILRI led WP1 and carried out the vegetation and livestock mapping, feed quality and grazing behaviour analysis and supported the selection of research sites and gained consent from landowners and local communities. Due to travel restrictions for the UK team, they also took on the soil sampling task engaging FW from KALRO, dispatching samples to the UK for analysis, and conducting some soil analysis. The University of Manchester led WP2 (Co-I Richard Bardgett) and providing guidance on vegetation analyses in WP1, as well as guiding data analyses and interpretation, and the design of high impact publications. The team at Manchester participated in the training and knowledge exchange events organized by WP4. The PDRA was responsible for the mesocosm experiments and contributing to soil assessments of WP1. CIFOR led WP3 focusing on household recruitment, surveys and focus groups to assess land-use and livestock practices, review of policy and institutional frameworks, and participatory prospective analysis to assess alternative management scenarios. The University of Kabianga led WP4 on engagement and capacity building, including outreach and knowledge exchange events for practitioners, community and students in Kenya. It also hosted and organised project workshops and advisory board meetings. In addition, a PDRA post contributed to the soil assessments of WP1 and WP2 and a technician supported the work in WP2, including hosting and helping with the mesocosm experiments which has been critical due to travel restrictions for the UK team.
Impact The primary collaborative outputs have been in the characterisation of these grassland ecosystems and the engagement of local Kenyan communities, including village elders, land-owners and stakeholder organisations, which has been key to gaining participation in the project and also instrumental in outreach and dissemination work. Results are also being analysed of a mesocosm experiment which was dependent on collaboration between University of Manchester and University of Kabianga. Similarly, the soil sampling and soil analysis work was conducted across partners (Lancaster, ILRI and Manchester). The project is multi-disciplinary and involves soil science, microbiology, plant ecology, environmental science, livestock and agricultural systems and social science, including anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description ReDEAL project team 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lancaster University provided the overall leadership and project management. The PI (at Lancaster University) is also responsible for achieving deliverables, implementing the impact pathway and disseminating outputs. In addition, she leads the landscape-level mapping in WP1 and the modelling in WP3, and supervised three PDRA. The Co-I based at Lancaster (John Quinton) is responsible for the soil assessments in WP1 and led on training of the research assistants at partner organisations. One PDRA (GY) conducted spatial modelling of landscape change and dynamic modelling of management and restoration scenarios. An additional, 1-year research associate (CM) assisted with soil analysis of samples shipped from Kenya due to covid19 travel restrictions. A seconded scientist (GB) has been instrumental compiling the comprehensive multi-disciplinary project database. Lancaster University also provided the main administrative function covering agreements, financial management, activity monitoring and reporting, the website and organising meetings.
Collaborator Contribution ILRI led WP1 and carried out the vegetation and livestock mapping, feed quality and grazing behaviour analysis and supported the selection of research sites and gained consent from landowners and local communities. Due to travel restrictions for the UK team, they also took on the soil sampling task engaging FW from KALRO, dispatching samples to the UK for analysis, and conducting some soil analysis. The University of Manchester led WP2 (Co-I Richard Bardgett) and providing guidance on vegetation analyses in WP1, as well as guiding data analyses and interpretation, and the design of high impact publications. The team at Manchester participated in the training and knowledge exchange events organized by WP4. The PDRA was responsible for the mesocosm experiments and contributing to soil assessments of WP1. CIFOR led WP3 focusing on household recruitment, surveys and focus groups to assess land-use and livestock practices, review of policy and institutional frameworks, and participatory prospective analysis to assess alternative management scenarios. The University of Kabianga led WP4 on engagement and capacity building, including outreach and knowledge exchange events for practitioners, community and students in Kenya. It also hosted and organised project workshops and advisory board meetings. In addition, a PDRA post contributed to the soil assessments of WP1 and WP2 and a technician supported the work in WP2, including hosting and helping with the mesocosm experiments which has been critical due to travel restrictions for the UK team.
Impact The primary collaborative outputs have been in the characterisation of these grassland ecosystems and the engagement of local Kenyan communities, including village elders, land-owners and stakeholder organisations, which has been key to gaining participation in the project and also instrumental in outreach and dissemination work. Results are also being analysed of a mesocosm experiment which was dependent on collaboration between University of Manchester and University of Kabianga. Similarly, the soil sampling and soil analysis work was conducted across partners (Lancaster, ILRI and Manchester). The project is multi-disciplinary and involves soil science, microbiology, plant ecology, environmental science, livestock and agricultural systems and social science, including anthropology.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In October 2019, we held our first project meeting, hosted at the University of Kabianga in Kenya, with an Advisory Board consisting of representatives from key national and regional stakeholder organisations: Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO); local government representatives from Narok County and the Lake Region Economic Block. It is chaired by a Professor at the University of Nairobi. The Board was due to meet again in October 2020 but this was postponed due to pandemic-related disruptions. It is now scheduled to take place in Kenya in April 2021 (with virtual participation from UK team).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This meeting was held in March 2022 with an Advisory Board consisting of representatives from key national and regional stakeholder organisations: Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO); local government representatives from Narok County and the Lake Region Economic Block and representative from the farmers residing in one of our research sites. There is a relatively big time gap between the last Advisory Board Meeting due to COVID constraints. Participation from UK partners was virtual. The AB was taken to see our on-farm restoration experiments in Nyando and later gather to discuss the project activities. The meeting went over the main project activities that have taken place as part of each Work Package. This allowed the chance to discuss and ask questions regarding the future of the research and opportunities for dissemination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Lancaster Seeds Pilot Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This was not a standalone event. Students were hosted for a summer, internship style opportunity where they got involved with the laboratory work, specifically soil analysis. The opportunity aimed to engage young people in academic research on the areas of Plant physiology and soil sciences.  The students hosted were aged 15-16 years old from the Lancaster Grammar Royal School during the summer period (June-August 2021).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://twitter.com/Carmenmedca/status/1432701125954789378/photo/3
 
Description Outreach blogs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blogs and news items have been written on the ReDEAL webpage in order to engage the general public and educate others on the work of Project ReDEAL. The blogs cover content including the establishing field trial sites, film showings, research seminars and COVID limitations. Since uploading these blogs there has been an increase in interest and enquiries into the work of ReDEAL. The project mailbox has received messages from third party organisations who would like to support and get involved with the work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/restoringafricangrazing/blogs/
 
Description Presentation at British Ecological Society Conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A 15-minute poster presentation given in person by Patricia de Britto Costa as part of the BES21 Conference. The session was also viewed by participants online. Patricia works primarily on the mesocosm experiment in WP2 and the analysis of soils from WP1. The presentation covered 'Using Plant traits to restore soil Functioning in degraded grasslands of Kenya Highlands'. The presentation stimulated wide discussion amongst attendees and many questions were asked. Advice was also gained through hearing other presentations on restoration, These lessons and advice is being incorporated into future ReDEAL work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/events/ecology-across-borders-2021/programme-and-presenter-...
 
Description ReDEAL film showing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Film showing and panel debate where 30 audience members attended. The audience contained a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as University staff members and members of the public. Students from a local secondary school were given the opportunity to question the researchers on the project and the wider issue of mitigating climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/events/the-power-of-african-soils-to-mitigate-climate-chang...
 
Description ReDEAL presented at a side session at the World Food Prize event (USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The PI presented ReDEAL in a session organised by UK FCO to showcase research conducted under the Global Challenge Research Fund. FCO has organised such a session at the World Food Prize together with the N8AgriFood programme (https://www.n8agrifood.ac.uk/) to improve the visibility of Bristish Science in the Global South on matters related to Agri-Food. The session was well attended and received positive feedback from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Relationships with local communities and study participants 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact To carry out the fieldwork and ensure community support researchers at ILRI and CIFOR in Kenya developed relationships with 29 village elders and other community leaders from across the two study areas (Kericho and Nyando) in Western Kenya. Village elders represent the base of administrative structures in Kenya and have been key to accessing households and gaining their consent to participate. They are also key contacts for community outreach activities as well as facilitating the communication of concerns and questions from the community to the project team. In total, 64 households from 33 villages have agreed for the research to take place on their land and have participated in an initial survey; 52 of these have also participated in a detailed survey on grazing and manure management. A further 339 other households in the study areas have participated in another survey on land-use, tenure, farm management practices and livelihoods.

This engagement with the community, both with the elders and farmers, has enabled participation in the study and is also helping to identify potential areas for capacity building. Farmers have asked for support in propagating plant species that are beneficial for land restoration and livestock feeding, and also on best practice in grazing and manure management. These relationships will also play an important role in disseminating findings in the future, with households forming an important user group for whom the research findings will be directly relevant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021
 
Description Relationships with stakeholder organisations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Through personal visits, email and telephone calls the team has established contact with local stakeholder organisations in Kenya which are likely to become important partners in validating research findings and disseminating recommendations, including:
a) three Community Forest Associations (Kuresoi CFA, Kericho CFA, Londiani CFA) in the Kuresoi forest block whose several hundred members live adjacent to the Mau forest and are important stakeholders for grazing management in this area;
b) the Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (ISLA), which is a consortium of organisations working to conserve the Mau forest, including NGO, representatives of Kenyan Forest Service, government agencies and the County governments of Kericho and Bomet;
c) a community based organisation known as Friends of Katuk Odeyo (FOKO), which coordinates the activities of 31 community groups with approximately 300 members in Nyakach, which falls within the project area;
d) a community-based organisation, the North East Community Development Programme (NECODEP) in Nyando, which consists of 8 community groups;
e) three Water Resource User Associations (Kipchorian WRUA, Awach Kano WRUA and Asawo WRUA) each with several hundred members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021
 
Description Research Seminar to Mazingira Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Alice Onyango led a seminar presentation on the work of Project ReDEAL. She detailed the methods used and preliminary findings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Research Seminar with Post-graduates and Faculty members 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An in-person and online seminar was presented by Dr Patricia de Britto Costa at the University of Kabianga in Kenya. Post-graduate and undergraduate students attended this seminar in person, as well as staff members from the School of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at UoK. This sparked many questions after the event which were confidently answered by Dr Patricia. UoK reported an increase in enquiries to the school and an uptake in interest in the ReDEAL project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Training with National Museums of Kenya - East Africa Herbarium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A botanist from the National Museums of Kenya delivered specialised training to the ILRI PDRA and field technicians on identification of grassland plant species. Species were then collected and submitted for detailed identification against databases held by East African Herbarium of National Museums of Kenya. Some of these were previously unidentified, leading to updating of their database. PDRA and field technicians have also gained skills to identify common grassland species.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Twitter highlights 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The main ReDEAL social media outlet is twitter. The account is used to publicise events and content relevant to the project as well as to stimulate discussions about topical issues related to grassland degradation. In the last year, the account has seen an increase in followers and has posted more frequently. The posts have been used to direct followers to further information about the project, including the project webpage. By re-tweeting the work of partners and other related institutions, the project and project team are exposed to more opportunities from potential supporters or collaborators. Frequent tweets about exciting events and news from the team has generated a buzz around the project which has ultimately boosted interest in the issue.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://twitter.com/RestoreGrazing
 
Description Website and Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The project has a website (www.lancaster.ac.uk/redeal) and twitter feed (@restoregrazing). It has also published a leaflet and poster to support further engagement with local communities and stakeholders in Kenya.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021
URL http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/redeal