Changes in pastoral resources in eastern Sudan
The pastoral resources in eastern Sudan are changing under the combined impact of increasing anthropogenic activities such as clearance of natural vegetation and the effect of state policies that favour crop farming against pastoralism. The article “Monitoring changes in pastoral resources in eastern Sudan: a synthesis of remote sensing and local knowledge” by Hussein Sulieman and Abdel Ghaffar Ahmed (published in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2013 3:22) analyses remotely sensed data on spatial and temporal changes from 1979 to 2009 in land use and land cover (LULC) across three study sites. Areas of natural vegetation were reduced from 26% in 1979 to 13% in 1999 and to 9% in 2007. Most of this reduction went into arable cropping. Pastoralists’ perceptions of changes in plant species were obtained. Major LULC trends were progressive degradation and loss of grazing areas, loss of biodiversity and depletion of other ecological support provided by natural vegetation. Declining rainfall, land clearance for crop expansion, overgrazing and herbicide application by crop farmers were identified as underlying forces that changed plant species in the region. The study revealed that pastoralists have considerable knowledge and experience in dealing with degradation and climate variability. However, they are marginalised in decisions concerning expansion of large-scale crop farming at the expense of pastureland. Their lack of education and other basic services restricts the pastoralists’ potential to adapt to the new situation.