Species diversity, composition, structure and management in agroforestry systems: the case of Kachabira district, Southern Ethiopia.
Agroforestry is increasingly being identified as an integrated land use enhancing plant diversity while reducing habitat loss and fragmentation. This paper examined species diversity, composition, structure and management in agroforestry systems. Two Kebeles (Kachabira and Mesafe) were purposively selected for this study. Then, farmers who dominantly practiced agroforestry practices such as home garden, parkland and live fence were stratified based on wealth categories. Ten percent of the sample households were randomly selected from each wealth category. Accordingly, a total of 83 households were selected. Inventories of plant species were done by sampling one plot of each farm management type. A total of 59 plant species, belonging to 56 genera and 36 families were recorded across the home gardens, parklands and live fences in the study area. Among the plant species, trees constituted 42%, shrubs 27%, herbs 29% and climber 2%. From recorded plant species, 66% were native and the remainders 34% were introduced species. From the native species recorded in this study, Lippia adoensis and Millettia ferruginea were endemic to Ethiopia. The mean Shannon diversity index of rich, medium and poor households in the three different agroforestry practices were 1.75, 1.57 and 1.62 in home garden, 0.36, 0.30 and 0.49 in parkland and 0.84, 0.99 and 1.00 in live fence respectively. The largest tree basal area was recorded in the live fence (14.7 m2ha-1), followed by home garden and parkland. The study revealed that agroforestry plays an important role in the conservation of biodiversity, and also by providing food, income and a wide range of other products such as fuel wood, construction material, fodder, spices and medicinal plants. Farm household landholding size, species preference and management found to be the most important influencing factors that affect the diversity of plant species. Further detailed study of explicit examining of the factors such as socio-ecological effects that determine species diversity and the contribution of different functional groups to livelihood is needed to fully understand the agroforestry system.