Perennial forage

Introducing a native perennial forage crop to combat desertification in Tunisia (more photos)

Seed Collection in Tunisia Field trial of perennial forage Stipa lagascae near Gabès, Tunisia

Sample abstract

from: Visser Marjolein and Frédéric Morand, 2000; Social clues to the reintroduction of native grazed perennials in Presaharian Tunisia: the recent pas revisited; Society for Ecological Restoration International Conference, Liverpool, UK

In Presaharian Tunisia, a showcase of accelerated desertification since the 1950s, agriculture has invaded the former collective rangelands, turning them into a patchwork of eroded private fields and range leftovers. Moreover, ongoing rural exodus and urbanisation cause fields to be abandoned without any significant spontaneous secondary succession. Given the need for local herbage and forage, this may soon trigger demand for seeds of native perennials with high grazing value, and even raise the prospect of restoring the historical rangelands. Government-funded native seed production programs try to anticipate this demand, but their target species are in fact socially disregarded. This impedes their reintroduction within private lands. Interviews of local agropastoralists renowned for their ecological working knowledge focused on the change in their perception of these species throughout the last decades. Ecologically promising species appear to have been key resources for agropastoralists. But their overexploitation, the sedentarisation - urbanization process and import of animal feeds led to their social depreciation. Agropastoralists may renew their perceptions of native perennials if emphasis is put on their virtues in terms of soil protection, forage production, low maintenance requirements, and persistence. However, if renewal happens, it will lead to restored fields very different from the historical rangelands.

 

Stipa lagascae

Other references:

Visser Marjolein, 2001; Produire des semences autochtones pour réhabiliter des terres dégradées : le cas de Stipa lagascae R. & Sch. en Tunisie Présaharienne [Producing native seeds for restoring degraded lands: the case of Stipa lagascae R. & Sch. in Presaharian Tunisia]; Doctorate thesis, Applied Biological Sciences: Agronomy, University of Ghent, Ghent (Belgium), 374 p.

Visser Marjolein, Frédéric Morand and Hedi Mahdhi, 2002; Fauche de Stipa lagascae et réhabilitation des terres privées en Tunisie aride; Cahiers Agricultures, 11, 377:383 (résumé).

Visser Marjolein, Frédéric Morand and Dirk Reheul, 2001; Haymaking of Stipa lagascae in Presaharian Tunisia: opportunities to restore private arid land; Ecological Restoration, 18 (1), 47:49.

See more references in Publications.

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