Importance of Shrublands
Shrubland ecosystems cover over half of Kenya and, by area alone, are the most important ecological region in terms of carbon sequestration, water capture and primary productivity. The condition of the rangelands has a large bearing on the countrywide volumes of run-off, erosion, nutrient loss, flooding and carbon emissions arising from bushfires. Though not rich in biodiversity within any single location, the size of the rangelands accounts for a large share of Kenya’s biodiversity. More important, the rangelands—including grasslands and woodlands—support the most abundant wildlife herds on Earth. The majority of protected areas, which form the backbone of Kenya’s US$1.3 billion tourism industry, are located in the rangelands. The rangelands have shaped the nature, productivity and diversity of Kenya’s pastoral economies and cultures. The pastoral regions support over half the national livestock herd. Though many pastoral communities still practice seasonal livestock migrations and subsist on their herds, a growing portion have taken up commercial livestock production and supply a large portion of Kenya’s meat industry. The rangelands hold important cultural values for pastoralists whose dress, settlement structures, social systems, customs and ceremonies have all been moulded to the austere environment. Recently the rangelands have acquired new values in terms of biodiversity, wildlife conservation, tourism, recreation, wilderness and aesthetic appeal.