Socio-Economic Drivers of Degradation and Their Implication on Conservation of River Lumi Riparian Ecosystem in Kenya

Riparian forests ecosystems play significant role in biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem goods and services which support local livelihoods. However, riparian ecosystems are threatened by degradation attributed to anthropogenic activities. Understanding the interaction between anthropogenic activities and socio-economic factors, and their associated impact on riparian degradation is essential for designing appropriate management strategies for these ecosystems. This study assessed the socio-economic factors that drive degradation and their implication on conservation of River Lumi riparian ecosystem. Semi-structured questionnaires, Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) and key informant interviews were used to collect the data. The findings indicate that crop farming and livestock production were the main sources of livelihood practiced by 84% and 70% of the households respectively. Consequently, agricultural intensification resulting from increased demand for agricultural commodities (33%), over-grazing coupled with influx of livestock from private ranches and neighbouring pastoralist Maasai community (20%), and deforestation fuelled by population increase (17%) were the main drivers of degradation in River Lumi riparian ecosystem. The findings indicate that about 91% of the adjacent communities are dependent on River Lumi for their sustenance and their livelihoods will be affected by continued degradation of the riparian ecosystem; thus there is need for development of appropriate management strategies including sustainable livelihood systems to conserve River Lumi riparian ecosystem.
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East Africa
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