The effect of small scale topographic gradient on the distribution and community utilization of indigenous woody species in a lowland Dryland environment, Tokapel area, Turkana, Kenya
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The landscape of Lokapel is characterized by a distinctive dryland vegetation, whose distribution is influenced by altitudinal change and the use of woody species by the local community along 100 m altitudinal gradient from River Turkwel (662 m) to Lokapel Hill (764 m). The paper undertakes the following: (a) to establish the influence of elevation on woody vegetation species distribution in different landscapes in the area and (b) to assess the consumptive and non-consumptive uses of woody vegetation in the area by the local community and determine the utility patterns along the altitudinal gradient. A total of forty three species of woody plants were identified with the top five species in terms of widespread distribution being; Indigofera cliffordearia (10 percent), Acacia tortilis (9.8 percent), A. nubica (8.8 percent), Balanites rotundifolia (6.3 percent), and Acacia reficiens (5.4 percent). The local people used the indigenous woody species to address a total of 18 demands including provision of livestock fodder, household construction, bio-energy, and herbal medicines. The variation in woody species and their uses showed the total number of woody species distribution has the highest peak around 680 m but altitude accounted only for 51 percent of the variation in woody species.
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