Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Pedological and hydrological effects of vegetation restoration in exclosures established on degraded hillslopes in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia

Katrien DESCHEEMAEKER researcher laureate

°1977 Belgium
Master in Bioscience Engineering, Land and Forest Management, 2000

Pedological and hydrological effects of vegetation restoration in exclosures established on degraded hillslopes in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia

Land degradation is a major problem in areas with high population pressure. Disruption of soil and natural vegetation reduces the availability of nutrients and water, endangering the sustainable use of the land area available. The northern Ethiopian highlands are an example of an area where land degradation has become a serious threat. Since the mid '70s various strategies have been tested and applied in this region to limit further degradation or to repair degraded areas. One of the measures put into effect is the creation of "exclosure" areas where burdensome activities such as grazing are restricted or prohibited, so that natural vegetation can regenerate.
Katrien Descheemaeker's study evaluates the effectiveness of the use of exclosures for soil and water conservation. The research consists of a comparison between exclosures of various ages and a further comparison between these areas and untouched zones and degraded grazing lands. A large number of relevant characteristics were determined for the selected sites. The pedological study within each lot, with particular attention for sediment deposition from erosion areas and for the accumulation and transformation of organic matter on the soil surface, shows that the chemical and physical quality of the soil is improved by exclosures. The study of the hydrological balance, with measurements for soil moisture, runoff and evapotranspiration, indicates that the infiltration of water increases in exclosure areas, increasing vegetation restoration in the area and reducing soil degradation around the area. A third part of the work demonstrates that diverting gullies to exclosure areas further optimizes the rehabilitation of degraded areas.
The author presents an extensive inventarization and analysis of the changes that result from exclosure. The quality of the research is very high in all respects, from fieldwork to data analysis. Some sections of the thesis had already been published in international journals, and are now integral parts of a coherent whole. The work concludes with practical recommendations for the creation and management of exclosures, and other parts of the work also show concern for the social relevance of the research findings. This focus and the broad applicability of the results in tropical and subtropical areas give the work high developmental relevance.

report: Dr. F. Mees, Geology and Mineralogy, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium