Increases in agricultural productivity and development in East and Central Africa (ECA) subregion have come in part at the expense of the natural resource base on which biodiversity and farming systems depend. Protected lands, group ranches and private lands in the Serengeti Mara Ecosystem consisting of Serengeti plains, Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve and the adjoining group ranches (Kenya) and village lands (Tanzania) are undergoing a land-use conversion from natural savannah to agriculture and exurban development. Yet, little is known about the ecological and social economic consequences of this change. Although the savannah cover and wildlife habitat have remained intact to a greater extent than elsewhere in the region, there have been a remarkable disappearance of biodiversity and degradation of wild land in the ecosystem. At the same time, there has also been a remarkable deterioration on the human livelihood (income, food, security, and well being) in the SME. To address these problems, there is need for an integrated agro-biodiversity farming system that has enormous potential for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods development.
ASARECA conducted biodiversity survey and social economic surveys at randomly selected points on each type of land use in the wet and dry sides of the Serengeti Mara Ecosystem between July 2009 and December 2010 in order to: (1) map, document and evaluate existing land use practices, (2) document socio-economic status in the ecosystem, (3) document biodiversity status in the ecosystem, (4) assess nature and dynamics of human-wildlife conflicts and their impact on people’s livelihood and natural resources, (5) select best bet sustainable land use practices with local communities, and (6) review existing policies/cultural/societal norms relevant to improve land use and biodiversity conservation.