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Rangeland Management and Fluvial Geomorphology in Northern Tanzania

Citation

Miller, Brian W. & Doyle, Martin W. (2014). Rangeland Management and Fluvial Geomorphology in Northern Tanzania. Geomorphology, 214, 366-377. PMCID: PMC4051240

Abstract

Researchers have independently documented the effects of land use on rivers and threats to river management institutions, but the relationship between changes in institutional context and river condition is not well described. This study assesses the connections between resource management institutions, land use, and rivers by integrating social science, geospatial analysis, and geomorphology. In particular, we measured hydraulic geometry, sediment size distributions, and estimated sediment yield for four rivers in northern Tanzania and conducted semistructured interviews that assessed corresponding resource management institutions. Communities managed rivers through both customary (traditional, nonstate) and government institutions, but the differences in the resource management policies and practices of the study rivers themselves were fairly subtle. Clearer differences were found at broader scales; the four watersheds exhibited substantial differences in land cover change and sediment yield associated with the location of settlements, roadways, and cultivation. Unexpectedly, these recent land use changes did not initiate a geomorphic response in rivers. The long history of grazing by domestic and wild ungulates may have influenced water and sediment supplies such that river channel dimensions are more resistant to changes in land use than other systems or have already adjusted to predominant changes in boundary conditions. This would suggest that not all rivers will have the anticipated responses to contemporary land use changes because of antecedent land use patterns; over long time scales (centuries to millennia), the presence of grazers may actually increase the ability of rivers to withstand changes in land use. Our findings point to a need for further interdisciplinary study of dryland rivers and their shifts between system states, especially in areas with a long history of grazing, relatively recent changes in land use, and a dynamic social and institutional context.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.02.018

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2014

Journal Title

Geomorphology

Author(s)

Miller, Brian W.
Doyle, Martin W.

PMCID

PMC4051240