Grazing systems are among the most important components of regional land use systems in West Africa. The understanding of their resilience and their adaptation to changing climate conditions is of crucial importance for the livelihood of rural people in the region. However, current grazing systems feature different degrees of adaptation to climate. In our approach, forage quality and quantity are used as indicators in the assessment of adaptation to current climate. Furthermore, the sampling scheme will allow for an evaluation of the adaptation of systems to future climate conditions. This will be accomplished by extending the investigation to regions with climates that are analogous to future climate conditions.
The Work Package aims at providing methods for an indicator-based assessment of adaptation to climate, methods for the derivation of adaptation strategies to future climate, methods for the spatially contiguous assessment of rangeland/grazing land quality in the WASCAL core research sites, using cutting edge satellite technology, and knowledge about the local valuation of forage resources. In order to accomplish these tasks, we will further the application of novel assessment tools such as the German satellite missions RapidEye and (upcoming) EnMAP. Satellite imagery offers promising tools to assess rangeland resources, i.e. the quality and quantity of forage of grazing land.
A camera-based monitoring approach on the ground will add temporally continuous information on plant phenology and seasonal aspects of forage quality. A rangeland model will be used for an assessment of potential growth at a given time and place. The results from both methods will help in judging the differences in rangeland states observed by satellite. For an assessment of grazing management, data on mobility decisions and alternative herd management strategies as well as their micro-economic embedding will be recorded on household level. By linking spatio-temporal patterns in forage supply to local grazing management, a functional understanding of interactions between the social and ecological subsystem will be achieved. The approach builds upon existing local knowledge on sustainable land use – hence, it is also a learning approach.