Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands

This audio slideshow explains the concept behind BEST. Please see the project website for the latest updates.

African drylands are fast approaching a tipping point with the amount of land enclosed as ranges: which limits the mobility of wild and domestic grazing animals, and is accompanied by a loss of ecosystem services and of poor people's livelihood choices. The shift to enclosed lands (or conversely, back to an open state) is influenced by changing policies on land tenure and natural resource management. These policies and their environmental and social implications come into focus at household level where people need to make difficult trade-offs and land use choices. 

The shift to an enclosed (or conversely back to an open) state was driven by the interplay of changing policies on land tenure and natural resource management. The effects of these policies, which are integrated at the level of household tradeoff decisions and subsequent land use choices, were expressed in environmental and social sustainability implications.

The Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands project (BEST) asked the research question: How do different policy and economic drivers shape household decisions on land use choices, and with what ecosystem services and poverty implications? The Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands project research design, methods and materials use conceptually innovative modelling, alongside major extant datasets, and a cross-border comparative analysis encompassing Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia – three of the poorest African countries – to develop understanding of household decisions over land use. 

The Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands project partnership combined in-depth experience of the biophysical and socioecological dimensions of the ecosystems studied, advanced modelling capabilities, and outstanding experience in communications and engagement, with significant research, policymaker and practitioner networks.

The Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands project shared knowledge and built capacity across the whole partnership, which comprised University College London, the Zoological Society of London, the International Livestock Research Institute and the Africa Technology Policy Studies Network.

The project did this by working collaboratively, engaging a wide range of stakeholders, and producing a range of outputs pitched at policy as well as scientific audiences. The intention was to build capacity across the project team and beyond, to ensure maximum impact. The Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping points in African drylands project also leveraged dissemination through non-funded project partners, such as research and practitioner networks. 

Authors: Keane, A.; Gurd, H.; Kaelo, D.; Said, M.Y.; De Leeuw, J.; Rowcliffe, J.M.; Homewood, K.
Year: 2016
Authors: Osano, P.M.; Said, M.Y.; de Leeuw, J.; Ndiwa, N.; Kaelo, D.; Schomers, S.; Birner, R.; Ogutu, J.O.
Year: 2013
Authors: Ogutu, J.O.; Owen-Smith, N.; Piepho, H.P.; Said, M.Y.; Kifugo, S.C.; Reid, R.S.; Gichohi, H.; Kahumbu, P.; Andanje, S.
Year: 2013
Lead Principal Investigator
Organisation: University College London
Country: United Kingdom
Co Investigator
Organisation: World Agroforestry Centre
Country: Kenya
Co Investigator
Organisation: Int Livestock Research Institute
Country: Kenya
Co Investigator
Organisation: Zoological Soc London Inst of Zoology
Country: United Kingdom
Co Investigator
Organisation: African Tech Policy Studies Network
Country: Kenya
Research Assistant
Organisation: UCL
Country: United Kingdom
Research Assistant
Organisation: UCL/IoZ
Country: United Kingdom
Research Assistant
Organisation: UCL/IoZ
Country: Kenya
Research Fellow
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Country: United Kingdom