MARIS, the (Maasai Mara) rangelands information system for conservation in a changing world

Dr Bert Toxopeus1, Drs Luc Boerboom1, Dr Kees de Bie1, Drs Henk Kloosterman1, drs Robert Uhuru1, Dr John Mbaluka Kimeu2, Drs Peter Mwangi3

1University Of Twente, Groningen, Netherlands, 2National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 3Consultant, Nairobi, Kenya

Due to climate change, the amount and frequency of rainfall becomes more unpredictable and extreme drought spells, less productivity and degradation of the rangelands occur, resulting in decreasing of number of wildlife and loss of biodiversity of the rangelands in general, while health, economic welfare and political stability of the people dependent upon them.

MARIS, the Mara Rangeland Information System, is being developed for the web client that uses an open source Remote Sensing and GIS software and which is generic. It aims to integrate historic, near real time and near future forecast of rainfall, biomass, carrying capacity and livestock market information for the sustainable management of rangelands. A nearly continuous sequence of historic rainfall data, present and near future rainfall forecast are produced using satellite data from several sources. It is able to present the shift in species abundance and composition (both fauna and flora) due to degradation and more importantly the  results of a carrying capacity model or scenario are to be used regularly by conservancies to establish and control their grazing management plans. These results, i.e. up to date spatial and temporal changes in biomass, species composition, carrying capacity of the rangelands for wildlife and livestock, and potential degradation are presented in the form of maps and tables, in the MARIS web client.

The MARIS model is operational via: The user can download all data and run his own rangelands management scenario’s. On YouTube a video ( is available to demonstrate the functionality of the program.


Albertus G Toxopeus

Associate Professor Bert Toxopeus is employed the Department of Natural Resources at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente in the Netherlands for more than 25 years. He undertook a PhD at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His main research is focused on biodiversity, coastal zone management and conservation and on the development of computerized spatial models to support the management of the ecological and socio-economic aspects of ecosystems and related biodiversity mapping, including coastal and marine environments. At this moment he is involved in development of decision support systems for sustainable conservation of environmental fragile ecosystems like the rangelands in Kenya, windfarm development and its impact on local and migratory birds in southern Spain, bat migration from Africa to Europe, development of corridors for the Leopard in Indonesia and in the conservation of marine turtles and protecting its coastal habitat in Greece, which is under strong pressure of urban development and many other conservation projects.

He has published  43 ISI journal articles and 4 book chapters.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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