The Laikipia County occupies a wild and expansive landscape (9,500km²), physically diverse and scenically spectacular; with grasslands, hills and forests. This ecosystem supports both herds of domesticated animals and also wildlife, with wildlife population densities ranking 2nd to the world famous Maasai Mara.
Across the grasslands or rangelands an increase in bare land and bush has been a clear trend all over Laikipia for many years, both on community owned lands and private ranches. Its effects are far-reaching; threatening the lives of people and livestock.
LWF is employing an approach called Holistic Management (HM) to address these issues. Based on proven techniques this system aims to tackle the formidable task of bringing life back to bare ground,and increasing the health and productivity of the grasslands.
HM focuses on two key tools:
1. Planned Grazing.
Land owners and land users are trained how to maximise the amount of grass grown in wet seasons, and how to make it last through dry seasons through Planned Grazing. It is essentially about having the right animals in the right place at the right time for the right reasons.
2. Bunched Grazing.
This technique is based on the principle that – contrary to popular belief – animals are integral to the generation and regeneration of plants and healthy rangelands; but this is only occurs when they are tightly bunched together. When huddled close to one another the animals act as a ‘bulldozer’ breaking the ground and allowing for water and nutrient flow, whilst at the same time they implant seeds and add fertilizer.
Bunched Grazing is used together with Planned Grazing, which combine to regenerate plants on bare ground; and make existing grasslands healthier and more productive.
Bringing back healthy land is only part of the solution. Land can’t be managed in isolation because management of land is tied to culture and to livelihoods – each land management action also has a social dimension and an economic dimension; any meaningful and lasting action therefore needs to satisfy all three.
A major element of the HM approach is for practitioners to lay out in detail the future they want to see. Its main contribution is to help managers make consistently good decisions in complex, constantly changing situations.