Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program


University of California at Davis

Publication Date



It has been proposed that the Borana Plateau has markedly changed in terms of land cover and land use in recent decades, but no hard data have been available to critically assess this claim. In addition, systematic analysis of soil properties has been limited. Research was designed to measure changes in land cover/land use over 30 years in the 400-km2 Yabelo District of southern Ethiopia using three satellite images taken at an average interval of 15 years. Samples were also collected to assess variation in the physical and chemical properties of dominant soils. Results indicated that Yabelo District has indeed changed greatly in terms of land use and land cover; dramatic declines were noted in the extent of grasslands, while croplands increased five-fold, and bushed-grasslands and bushlands both increased substantially. Bushland soils had less organic matter and were more compacted than grassland soils. These results all support the idea that the productive capacity of this landscape for grazing has been markedly reduced in 2003 as compared to that for 1973. Rehabilitating the grazing system would be difficult and require a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach. Central to such an approach would be devising a well-informed land use plan.