Ecological monitoring and adaptation of livestock systems after rehabilitation of degraded rangelands in algerian steppe


  1. Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique EL Harrach 16200 Algiers Algeria.
  2. UMR SELMET CIRAD, Montpellier, 34 000 France.
  3. University USTHB Bab Ezzouar Algiers Algeria.
  4. Institut Nationale de Recherche Agronomique, ALgiers 16200 Algeria.

Corresponding authors: ,

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The Algerian steppe covers 20 million ha. It is a bulwark between the desert and the coast of Mediterranean. This pastoral territory account about 20 million head sheep. This ecosystem has undergone many disturbances: desertification, overexploitation of rangelands, fragile soils, degradation of the vegetation, Change functions rangeland crops, and extreme weather conditions.

Trials of the rehabilitation of these ecosystems by restorative solutions were undertaken in a participatory process (conducted by a multidisciplinary team) with farmers-breeders complemented by detailed monitoring of the experimental plots. This study reports on some results of the ecological  monitoring and aims in the future to give an overview of the obvious adaptations of  steppic livestock systems Considering its constraints.


The study was conducted at Hadj Mechri town (33°51′ to 34°07′ N, 1°20′ to 1°44′ E). This arid rangeland receives on average rainfall of 350 mm/year, and has an average altitude of 1250 m.      Vegetation was studied before, during, and after restoration, and is represented by mixed steppes landscape of Stipa tenacissima (facies 1), Lygeum spartum (faciese 2), Stipagrostis pungens (facies 3).

The monitoring was performed by choosing 14 experimental plots with permanent transect lines. “Point quadrat method” (Daget and Poissonet, 1971) was used to determine annual floristic inventory (species richness and Shannon index), while biomass productivity was estimated by the indirect method of Daget and Godron (1995), and direct cuts (32 m2 per plot), before and after restoration. Pastoral production was expressed as feed units (FU); i.e. the energy value provided by 1 kg of barley (averages quality) containing 86 % of dry matter, when ingested, produces 1.65 Kcal of energy (Meyer C 2013).

Among these 14 plots, 7 were very degraded and were treated by planting a mixture of Atriplex halimus, Atriplex nummularia, Atriplex canescens, and Medicago arborea. Three plots, characteristics of each grassland type (or facies), were selected as untreated controls, whereas the 4 others were treated as exclosures with no grazing. After signing an agreement with 3 farmers to place exclosures on their land and the introduction of forage plants. These experiments of rangeland have been followed (studies ecology) for six years (floristic annual change and weight). The rest of the study focuses on the adaptations of livestock systems in a changing agrarian sector.

The study of breeders strategies relating to livestock systems management were done using questionnaire Surveys, results will be explored in future research.

Results and Discussion

The number of species is high in the Stipa tenacissima facies, and low in the Stipagrostis pungens facies (Figure 1). Exclosure improved species richness in all facies when compared to control, demonstrating that exclosure remains a simple solution for rangeland development.

Shannon index was highest in the Stipa tenacissima facies (Figure 1). It was highest in the exclosure plots for Stipa tenacissima and Lygeum spartum facies, reflecting the impact of exclosure on potential to improved grassland condition. Since the coefficient of variation of Shannon index indicates the level of stability of each facies compared to the richness, the Stipa tenacissima facies were the most stable.

Despite plantations and exclosure rangelands in Stipagrostis pungens facies, ranglands  remain in degradation and restoration did not give improvement of specific richness in this facies

Grassland Production. Production estimated by the indirect method based on the floristic survey, and direct cuts of phytomass, showed an increase in dry matter due to forage planting and exclosure overcompared to the control. Steppes dominated by Stipa tenacissima show the best production in the exclosure plots, whereas Lygeum spartum and Stipagrostis pungens facies produced more feed units when oversown with forage plants. The species responses to various rehabilitations are important for select the best ways of restoration (Figure2).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Some values of Richness, Shannon index and variation in different facies with different restorations Farm and land system dynamics in the Mediterranean basin: integrating spatial scales, from the local to the global one – December 2016 (click to enlarge the image)

Figure 2

Figure 2 Values of Phytomass and Pastoral production in 3 facies (click to enlarge the image)


The management of degraded steppe requires a broad knowledge of existing potentialities and perceptions of changes related to remedial actions chosen.

The protected zones administrated by pastoralists gave excellent regeneration showing that exclosure was as effective as oversowing in increasing biodiversity and provisions of livestock feed resources.

Restoration of original facies  (Stipa and Lygeum) was effective in increasing biodiversity and provisions of livestock feed resources unlike facies of Stpagrostis  which shows only weak primary productivity improvement, due to pastoral plants.

Since the results in this study reflect change over only ecological monitoring, other kind of knowledges are needed to understand the functioning of local livestock systems and detect which strategy is most applicable to rehabilitate the degraded rangelands of the algerian steppe


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