Professor Mariana Rufino | Lancaster University
Mariana’s work focuses on farming systems with a special interest on livestock, forests and climate change mitigation. Most of her work focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa where she has been working for the last 15 years, developing a deeper understanding of opportunities for intensification of agricultural production and the risks of associated environmental impacts. She uses field experimentation, farm and field surveys, dynamic simulation and optimisation models to study land use impacts on water supply, and greenhouse gas emissions, food security, and landscape productivity and the potential pathways for adaptation of farming to climate change. Full profile


Peter Cronkleton | CIFOR
Peter is a Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research in the Stainable Landscapes and Livelihoods program. He is an Anthropologist and expert on property rights systems, customary institutions and resource governance. A main focus of his research has been on how property rights security effects resource management decisions by smallholder farmers. He led CIFOR’s West Africa Forest Farm Interface project, an IFAD funded effort in Ghana and Burkina Faso that analyses the multi-use landscape mosaics managed by Sahelian farmers. He has also led multi-country research initiatives including a DFID-KNOWFOR study to examine the role of property rights in forest restoration initiatives in Ethiopia, China and Nepal. Peter has worked as a researcher and development practitioner in Latin America, Africa and Asia for more than 21 years.

Esther Mwangi | CIFOR
Sadly, Esther passed away in September 2019. Her contributions were invaluable in shaping the project and she is deeply missed. Read more about Esther’s life and work.

Joseph Hitimana | University of Kabianga

Lutz Merbold | Mazinga Centre, ILRI (until September 2020)Lutz Merbold
Lutz Merbold heads the Mazingira (Swahili word for environment) Centre – a state-of-the-art environmental and education facility – at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. He is driven by a simple research question: “How do ecosystems function now and how will they function in the future?” As a consequence his research focuses on the detailed understanding of nutrient cycling in ecosystems worldwide, including wetlands, woodlands, forests, savannas, grasslands and livestock systems across the globe. By quantifying and studying the greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange at ecosystem scale he aims at understanding the linkages between the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and water. He is also interested in the exchange of GHGs at the process level (leafs, soils and animals using GHG chambers) and larger scales (regional to global) using modeling (empirical, semi-empirical and process-based biogeochemical models) and remote sensing approaches, while linking environmental aspects to productivity.

Klaus Butterbach-Bahl | ILRI (after September 2020)

Professor Richard Bardgett | University of Manchester
Richard Bardgett is Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester. His research seeks to develop a mechanistic and conceptual understanding of how interactions between plants and complex soil biological communities regulate biogeochemical cycles and plant community dynamics, and their response to global change. He has written several books on this topic, including “Aboveground-Belowground Interactions (2010) and “Earth Matters: How Soil Underpins Civilization” (2016), both published by Oxford University Press, and is routinely recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher in ecology and environmental sciences. Richard is currently President of the British Ecological Society and Senior Editor of Journal of Ecology. More on the Soil Ecosystem and Ecology Lab at The University of Manchester.

Professor John Quinton | Lancaster University
John has 28 years research experience in soil and water science. He has been PI for grants totalling >£10M from BBSRC, NERC, EU, HEFCE and Defra, and his current work focuses on soil resilience, soil lifespans and soil monitoring, and diffuse pollution control, natural flood management and macronutrient cycling. He is Co-I for the BBSRC GCRF Foundation Award ‘Restoring soil function and resilience to degraded grasslands’ project in China and collaborator in the ‘Water Towers’ project in Kenya, investigating the impact of land use on soil sediment loss. This work builds on his BBSRC supported work on how plant diversity influences soil physical properties to improve soil resistance to erosion. Full profile


Alice Onyango | ILRI
Alice is an early career scientist working in smallholder farming systems in Western Kenya on developing methodologies and datasets to estimate their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions to evaluate interventions aimed at increasing production while mitigating climate change. She is interested in 1) sustainably optimizing smallholder production systems; and 2) improving estimates of nutritive quality of tropical ruminant feedstuffs aimed at enhancing animal nutrition and productivity under resource constraints.

Douglas Bwire | CIFOR
Douglas is a Research Officer at CIFOR. His research interest focuses on institutional analysis and capacity development. His recent work has involved coordinating research and capacity development that seek to strengthen joint forest and water governance in East Africa’s ‘Water towers’. He has contributed to the review and development of forest and water management plans, and guides for smallholder farmers’ institutional analysis and capacity development in East Africa. He is also interested in climate change adaptation.

Ellen Fry | University of Manchester
Ellen is interested in how we can use plant functional traits to effectively predict ecosystem functioning. Her recent projects have used bespoke plant functional groups to create contrasting species assemblages in a chalk grassland landscape in order to determine the role of functional traits on soil and plant restoration. She augmented this with a rainout shelter design to investigate the effect of a severe drought event on these assemblages and evaluate their resistance and resilience. Most recently she has been testing the resilience of the microbial communities in peat soils to multiple climate changes.

Gabriel Yesuf | Lancaster University
Gabriel is a Senior Research Associate. His research interest is on spatial ecology and tropical landscapes. He is also interested on assessing the potentials of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa by integrating remotely sensed and field-based data under a spatially explicit framework. He is also working on the ‘Greening Livestock’ project with Mariana to analyse household surveys, design and implement assessment workshops in smallholder dairy production systems of Kenya and Tanzania.

Oscar Kisaka | University of Kabianga

Yuda Odongo | University of Kabianga


Advisory Board

Prof. Charles K.K. Gachene | University of Nairobi (Chair)

Dr Patrick Gicheru | Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation

Paul Maritim | Lake Region Economic Block

Jackson Mpario | Narok County

Anne Chepkwony | Farming community