Region: El Ouara natural region / Tataouine, Tunisia
Climate, geography, and demographics:
• 4000 km2
• Climate: warm desert in the south, Mediterranean in the north
• 80-175 mm yearly rainfall with remarkable annual variations in precipitation, frequent droughts – 2 aridity gradients (N-S, E-W)
• 300 m a.s.l.
• Poor soils; edaphic substrata vary from sandy to stony soils with truncated top layers and surfacing rock due to erosion
• Natural vegetation cover: dwarf shrubland with perennial grasses
• > 5 million ha rangelands in Tunisia (49% communal, 21% private, 23% forest)
• 10 000 households in El Ouara region, about 14% depend on agro-pastoral activities
Pastoral activities, products and services: Livestock is the main source of household income. The main land use in the region is livestock grazing (goat, sheep, camels), with an annual forage intake of 300-700 million FU/year. The main products include meat, milk, wool, leathers. The rangelands help with water and soil conservation and provide marketable (forage/biomass, recreation, medicinal plants, energetic materials) and non-marketable (biodiversity, CO2 sequestration, erosion control, water purification) goods and services.
History and context of current challenges: Rangelands cover more than 1/3 of the national territory; 65% are steppe rangelands characterized by fragile ecosystems. Forage production covered 10-20% of animal needs in 2012; a severe decline since 1990 when it covered 60%. Recent top-down development approaches to management and preservation of grazing lands have failed, and there has been an extremely slow adoption of participatory approaches. Land tenure is a crucial element of management that is struggling from a bottleneck of policy and institutional issues. Recent global and climate changes have rendered traditional adaptive and environmentally friendly coping mechanisms used by pastoralists less effective. An increase in reliance on supplementary feed is another problem as prices are rising.
This CS will investigate the implementation of a rangeland “resting” technique for management and improvement of degraded ecosystems. The agro-pastoralists’ strategies to cope with various difficulties, and the socio-ecosystem services of rangelands will also be investigated.