Scientists In Ghana

Scientists on Thursday called for an integrated management approach to help reduce the effects of Prosopis woody weed in East Africa.

Led by scientist Purity Mbaabu, the scientists noted that while Prosopis species provide wood for local use and for charcoal production in Baringo County in northwest Kenya and other parts of East Africa, they are a major threat to the environment and to rural people’s livelihoods.

“It’s time chemical, biological and mechanical control measures be applied to reduce density of a weed in the invaded range and to slow down or stop its spread into uninvaded areas,” Mbaabu told journalists in Nairobi.

She warned that if left unchecked, the invasive woody weeds will continue to suppresses and at times replace native biodiversity and alter ecosystem functions.

Mbaabu noted that the weed severely limits livestock production, increase costs of crop production and consume a lot of water, thereby causing significant economic damage.

Prosopis, which was introduced in Baringo in 1982 as part of the fuel wood afforestation extension project to help reduce soil erosion has increased in coverage by 2,031 percent in just 28 years.

“Building on the long-term management experience gained in Australia, we propose that a combination of management options is required to achieve the sustainable and effective control of Prosopis in Baringo and other areas where it has spread,” Mbaabu added.

Urs Schaffner, head of ecosystem management at Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International observed that many exotic trees and shrubs have been introduced into Africa, but a few have escaped cultivation and have become destructive alien invasive species, reducing native biodiversity and limiting the livelihoods of those that live in rural communities.

He decried lack of coordinated and effective sustainable management of woody alien invasive species in eastern Africa, where people living in rural communities are more vulnerable to the impacts of invading species.

“This latest research will help form sustainable land management’ strategies that will help the countries to mitigate the impacts of the species,” Schaffner said. Enditem


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