CABI helps map ferocious speed and likely cause of woody weed spread across Ethiopia

Prosopis on river
Riverbank invasion of Prosopsis

CABI scientists have helped map the ferocious speed and probable cause of a devastating spread of the invasive alien tree Prosopis juliflora (Swartz DC) across an area equivalent to half of neighbouring Djibouti in the Afar Region of north eastern Ethiopia.

 

Dr Urs Schaffner, who is supervising lead author Hailu Shiferaw for his PhD studies, contributed to the Scientific Reports published paper ‘Modelling the current fractional cover of an invasive alien plant and drivers of its invasion in a dryland ecosystem’, which shows that the Prosopis invaded 1.2 million ha of grassland/shrubland in just 35 years.

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Why Prosopis no longer ‘pays’ as a prospect for positive environmental and socio-economic productivity

pro2

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the group of closely-related woody plant species and hybrids known as Prosopis were seen as a ‘saviour’ for millions of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in East Africa whose very livelihoods were threatened by the degradation of dryland ecosystems spurred on by overgrazing, and by deforestation and a shortage of firewood.

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March of the Armyworm

By Stephanie Parker. Reblogged from Earth Island Journal.

farmer
Since fall armyworms invaded his maize fields in central Ethiopia last year, Mohamud Abdu has had little success controlling them. He estimates that he lost 50 percent of his crop in 2017. Photo: Stephanie Parker

Mohamud Abdu stands tall in his maize field in Alaba, Ethiopia, a small agricultural district over 200 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Smooth green leaves reach up to his waist. The field is off a dirt road where children ride old bicycles and the occasional wooden cart, pulled by donkeys and piled high with people, passes by.

The sea of green where Abdu stands looks lush and healthy at first glance. The maize stalks are planted closely together and the leaves rustle gently in the wind. But upon inspection, these leaves are riddled with holes and plant detritus litter the remainder. Abdu pries open the whorl of a nearby maize plant with his fingers, and takes out a small caterpillar, roughly an inch long. It squirms on his palm.

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