This paper introduces indigenous land knowledge conservation systems as a significant resource which would contribute to the increased efficiency and effectiveness in the management of land and land based resources among rural communities. Despite their critical role in the conservation of the land based resources, these knowledge systems and technologies are being marginalized or even forgotten among rural communities. This paper discusses Teso community indigenous land conservation systems and the effects of their level of application/adoption on land use/land cover status trends from the time of Kenya’s pre-independence to the 2000s era. Data was collected using a variety of social science research methods such as structured questionnaires, in-depth face-to-face interviews, focussed group discussions, content analysis of literature and environmental check lists. The status of the bio-physical environment was tracked using GIS techniques. The common Teso community indigenous land conservation systems included mixed farming, traditional terracing, use of grass-strips, agro-forestry and fallowing. Results showed that adherence to the key Teso community indigenous land management systems have been on the decline since the 1960s. This has negatively impacted on the state of the biophysical environment by increasing land area under rain-fed agriculture by 11.2% and a decline in land under seasonal swamps by 21% between 1973 and 2010. Land size under wetlands dropped by about 33% between 1973 and 2000. These changes were indicative of the negative impact of the decline in level of application of indigenous land conservation systems in the protection and conservation of these resources.. In view of the above, it is recommended that rekindling, recording and preservation of indigenous land-based best practices among local communities such as the Teso for sustainable land management must be integrated into conventional environmental management plans.
Key words: Indigenous knowledge systems, land cover, land use, conservation, Teso, Kenya.
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