Rehabilitation of degraded communal grazing land

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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.

  • Drawing layout of eyebrow terraces, drainage ditches, and hedgerows on the bare land 
  • Digging holes for eyebrow pits, and drainage ditches using hoe and spade
  • Planting of tree seedlings and cuttings and sowing grass seeds using hoe and spade
  • Making sure that all livestock are stall-fed
  • Establishing small live fences with grasses and shrub cuttings
  • Participation of land users
  • Technical backstopping in the initial stages
  • Need-based technology
  • Increased carrying capacity of land; increase in farm income – about $17 was collected from selling grass seeds and grass in the first 2 years
  • Strengthened community institution – money used for social work
  • Improved knowledge of soil and water conservation and erosion
  • Improved soil cover: about 80% of bare land covered by the various grasses
  • Increased soil moisture
  • Reduced soil loss
  • More efficient drainage of excess water
  • Biodiversity enhanced
  • The technology package is easy to apply as it does not need much knowledge and is cost effective - Regular maintenance of the structure and grasses is required
  • Improvement can be seen fast and easily; the vegetation cover increased and the loss of top soil decreased - As above
  • Reduced soil erosion, rill erosion, and top soil loss
  • The technology is effective against land degradation - More tree and fruit species should be added and grass species multiplied to cover the remaining bare land

Project/Programme Info



January - December

Geographical Coverage

For further information contact:

Madhav Dhakal/Vijay Danuwar