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Traditional Grazing Management Practices Affect Vegetation Dynamics in the Somali Pastoral Ecosystem of Ethiopia
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  • Haftay Gebremedhn,
  • Sintayehu Dejene,
  • Samuel Tuffa,
  • Yayneshet Tesfay,
  • Devenish Adam
Haftay Gebremedhn
Haramaya University

Corresponding Author:hailuhft418@gmail.com

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Sintayehu Dejene
Haramaya University
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Samuel Tuffa
Oromia Agricultural Research Institute
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Yayneshet Tesfay
Independent Consultant
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Devenish Adam
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
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Pastoralist grazing management practices play a vital role in maintaining rangeland productivity and biodiversity. However, the degradation of rangelands and loss of ecosystem services have raised concerns about the future of pastoralism as a form of land use. Despite their importance, we have limited knowledge about the effect of traditional grazing management practices on vegetation attributes, such as species composition, richness, diversity, herbage biomass, and density, and canopy cover. To address this knowledge gap, we studied the changes in vegetation attributes under three traditional grazing management practices in the Somali pastoral ecosystem of Ethiopia. We found a significant difference in herbaceous and woody vegetation attributes among the grazing management practices (p < 0.001). Enclosures supported higher herbaceous species diversity and abundance of desirable species, such as Chloris gayana, Chrysopogon aucheri, Cynodon dactylon, and Themeda triandera, compared to open grazing and browsing management sites. The herbage biomass was three times higher in enclosures than in open grazing and twice higher than in browsing management practices. However, browsing management practices supported significantly higher levels of wood biomass, density, and canopy cover than the other management practices. Our results suggest that transitioning from open grazing to the enclosure and browsing management practices can lead to higher plant productivity, which supports the local pastoral economy in the Somali rangeland of Ethiopia. Thus, dryland restoration programs should consider traditional indigenous knowledge for ensuring the sustainability of future rangeland productivity and biodiversity conservation.