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Original Article

Climate Change Implications on the Rangelands Condition in West Guji and Borana Zones, Southern Ethiopia



Climate change is one of the most serious threats to rangeland. The implications of climate change on the rangelands conditions of the Duda and Gomole in Southern Ethiopia were examined. Measurements of rangeland were made using field survey and focus group discussions. Descriptive statistics, one way ANOVA was employed to detect whether significant difference exists between range conditions, while Pearson bivariate correlation used to test the relationships between climate factors and herbaceous plants. The Mann-Kendall test was used to determine the trends of rainfall and temperatures over times; meanwhile Sen’s slope estimator was used to test the magnitude of changes. The results show that no significant annual rainfall trend was in both Duda and Gomole rangelands, despite a slight increase in rainfall. However, the annual minimum temperature significantly increases in Duda rangeland, while the annual maximum temperature significantly decreases in Gomole rangeland. The major herbaceous species in Duda rangeland (Cenchrus ciliaris, Cynodon dactylon, Digitaria naghellensi, Digitaria milanjiana and Panicum maximum) had positive correlation with annual rainfall and negative correlation with minimum temperature. In the Gomole rangeland, Cenchrus ciliaris and Bothriochloa insculpta negatively correlated with minimum temperature. The Duda rangeland was in poor condition where that of Gomole was in fair condition. This difference was mainly due to slight difference between climate of Duda (arid and semi-arid) and Gomole (arid) of the rangelands. The multiple linear regression model result showed that changes in rainfall and temperature accounted for 46% of variability on Duda rangeland condition, whereas rainfall changes accounted for 32% of variability on Gomole rangeland condition. Therefore, the present study suggests rangeland rehabilitation in the short run through soil and water conservation, bush clearing and burning, and the planting of desirable grass species are critical to reduce the effects of climate change on rangeland.