At the 11th Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) pastoralism and climate change were at the centre of the scientific debate and the state of rangeland degradation in Northern Tanzania is a research priority. International and national research institutes are in fact focussing their attention on the impact of livestock and encroachment on the fragile savannah ecosystems, which in Tanzania support one of the world’s highest concentrations of wildlife.
Oikos European Union funded Eco-boma project aims at increasing resilience to climate change of pastoralist communities living in key ecological corridors. The project’s scientists presented at the TAWIRI conference the results of 15 months of ecological monitoring in the project area. Understanding rangeland conditions is crucial to the success of any rangeland conservation initiative but lack of data is the main constraint. In times of rapid environmental changes and erratic rainfall patterns, ongoing data collection and analysis is essential to inform communities and prompt strategies which can make the difference between survival and collapse of pastoralist systems.
Through an integrated approach which combines scientific expertise and community engagement Oikos is creating a sound protocol that will eventually be entirely run by community members. Oikos has trained resource assessors in each target village by enabling community members to use simple instruments to collect data on vegetation and to estimate livestock density. This technical knowledge will therefore remain in the communities and contribute to increase their resilience.
Networking and brainstorming with scientists from many national and international organisations was an essential component of the design of the ecological monitoring protocol and we would like to express our gratitude to Dr Colin Beale and Dr Rob Critchlow from the University of York (UK) who have supported our team in some aspects of data analysis and interpretation and to Howard Frederick for the support in the livestock density assessment.
2,000 families of pastoralists and agro-pastoralist living in about 250 bomas are involved in the project. They are actively involved in the initiative, working with the project's staff in order to design together sustainable strategies to face climate change.