Exploring Jordan’s Rangeland Transition

July 02, 2019
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Considering that rangeland hydrology and erosion processes are related to plant growth and ground cover types; research was carried out to understand the long-term impact of restored areas on the runoff and soil erosion rates during the past (baseline), current (degraded) and future (restored) status.

In the research: Exploring Jordan’s Rangeland Transition: Merging Restoration Experiment with Modeling –A Case Study from Al Majdiyya Village, several scenarios were developed for each status to capture the possible plant and ground cover changes due to land management and practices.

  • The scenarios were developed with experts, local community representatives and through protected site investigations to adequately represent the rangeland past  conditions (baseline scenarios).
  • In addition detailed measurements were conducted of the plant and ground cover of the current condition (degraded status), and measurements at several restored sites (restoration status).
  • The Rangeland Hydrological and Erosion Model (RHEM) used in this study captured the actual processes in Jordan’s rangeland area by validating the model results with a measured high-resolution dataset.
  • The developed scenarios along with long-term meteorological data were used to estimate the ranges of the average annual surface runoff (mm/year) and the soil erosion (ton/ha/year) rates for each status (baseline and restoration).

The results show that:

  • average annual surface runoff rate (mm/year) range from (9.21 – 20.63), (19.86 – 27.76), and (17.47 – 20.51) for the baseline, degraded and restored scenarios respectively.
  • the soil losses (ton/ha/year) range from (0.79-1.89), (1.05 – 4.65), (0.86 – 2.31) for the baseline, degraded and restored scenarios respectively.

The study indicates that restoration - using the Vallerani water-harvesting technique and out-planting of native shrub species - is a promising methodology to restore the degraded ecosystem and to approximate the environment’s historical hydrological conditions.

Restoration enhances the interception, storage and the efficient use of the rainwater through plants, which will sustain a native cover and conserve the soil, and generally stabilize the rangeland ecosystem and improve its services.

This can be used by decision makers to develop ecological site descriptions of the current eco-hydrological processes, its transition status with or without restoration, and what are the possible impacts and estimates of the on-site and off-site environment. The plant cover changes simulated by RHEM can be used as a reference to assess the carrying capacities of the hillslopes areas, which provides essential information for sustainable livestock management - towards enhancing the livelihoods in the Jordanian Badia.