Exploring Jordan’s Rangeland Transition State
Restoration of degraded rangelands in Jordan is essential to enhance and maintain the productivity and resilience of this fragile ecosystem. A balanced interaction between rangeland hydrology and vegetation status is key to achieving long-term sustainability. Restoration of rangelands using mechanized water harvesting techniques, coupled with the out-planting of native shrub seedlings, has been introduced and recommended by researchers - and was later adopted by relevant ministries in Jordan.
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 runoff and soil erosion rates during the past (baseline), present (degraded) and future (restored) status.
The research Exploring Jordan’s Rangeland Transition: Merging Restoration Experiment with Modeling –A Case Study from Al Majdiyya Village developed several scenarios 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 conditions during the past (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) was used in this study after it was tested to capture the actual processes in Jordan’s rangeland area.
- The model results were validated 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 soil erosion (ton/ha/year) rates for each status.
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.
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.
The results of the study 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.
For more information, please contact Mira Haddad, Senior Research Assistant - Spatial Analyses and Database Management (ICARDA) M.Haddad@cgiar.org