Rehabilitation measures, including eyebrow pits and live fencing, were implemented on degraded communal grazing land to reestablish a protective vegetative cover
An area of heavily degraded grazing land was rehabilitated by establishing eyebrow pits to control and harvest runoff, planting trees and grasses, and fencing the site to control grazing. The main purpose was to re-establish vegetative cover on the almost bare, overgrazed site. The site is community land of the 40 households (240 people) of Dhotra village in the Jhikhu Khola watershed. These people are very dependent on this area due to the lack of alternative grazing sites. The rehabilitation site is surrounded by irrigated cropland downstream, grazing land, and degraded sal (Shorea robusta) dominated forest. Rainfed forward-sloping terraces immediately adjoin the site.
About 130 eyebrow pits were dug, together with catch drainage trenches. Several species of grass and fodder were planted along the ridges of the eyebrows and drainage trenches. Contour hedgerows were established between the eyebrow pits and trenches, and trees were planted just below the pits. The maintenance is quite easy: the vegetation needs to be cut back from time to time and the pits cleaned before the pre-monsoon period. The remaining bare areas should be revisited each year and replanted.
The area has a distinct dry season from November to May and a wet monsoon period from June to October. Annual rainfall is around 1200 mm. The site has red soils that are highly weathered and, if not properly managed, are very susceptible to erosion.
Rehabilitation activities for the following three measures were carried out in June before the onset of the monsoon using local agricultural tools and manual labour.
The high establishment costs of the technology means that the short-term benefit for the community only matches the costs involved. In the long-term the environmental benefit of rehabilitated land is high and economically it is positive.
The technology benefits women as it increases fodder and fuelwood production near to their homes and reduces the time they have to spend fulfilling these basic needs. Women’s priorities were considered while selecting the plant species; species preferred by women were Michelia champaca, Melia azedarach, Schima wallichii, Choerospondias axillaris, Azadirachta indica and Emblica officinalis.