Exclosures are a type of land management that is usually implemented on degraded lands for environmental restoration. Area Exclosure in the Ethiopian context can be defined as degraded land that has been excluded from human and livestock interference for restoration. Establishment of exclosures has been an important strategy for the restoration of degraded hillsides. This practice has become very common since the early 1980s, especially in the highlands of Ethiopia, due to the impressive improvement of productivity and reduction in soil erosion within enclosed area. Exclosures established are effective in restoring species composition, diversity and biomass yield of degraded grazing lands, factors that normally lead to improved ecosystem function and health. Exclosure is cheap and fast mechanism for restoring degraded lands. Land degradation refers to worsening of land resources and hence decreasing of sustainable productive capacity of agricultural lands in the world. In Meno highland, Sidama, Ethiopia, excloures are established in private grazing lands in agreements with the landowner farmers. In the agreement it is stated that the farmer obliged himself to close his land for the period of five years, during which time he plants indigenous tree seedlings inside the land, in turn the project agrees to give him 5000 ETB/ha as premium after completion of 5 years. This demands a lot of money from the project.
The farmers who own area exclosures plant not only tree seedlings inside, but also improved grasses so that there is increased grass production. The natural and planted grasses will be used by cut-carry method to feed animals kept indoors. Indoor feeding of animals is advantageous in that it conserves energy spent for movement in search of grass in free grazing lands. When animals fed indoors, this energy will be converted to animal products like milk and meat. When you feed animals indoors, you don’t tie them in stall for 24 hours, rather you let them move freely to exercise around homestead where they can also live their natural behavior, but you don’t let them enter to area exclosures. Another advantage of indoor feeding is that land degradation is prevented caused by overgrazing and trampling.
However, indoor feeding has also disadvantage in that by cut-carry method you only take cut grasses out of the land and hence, there is a chance for nutrient depletion from the land. In order to balance this phenomenon, you need to distribute animal wastes (dung and urine) into the area exclosures to replace the nutrients taken out with cut grasses, this is called nutrient recycling.
Area exclosures also provide abundant flowering plants which could be used as bee forage to increase honey production.