Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Emerging threats to dryland forest resources: elephants and fire are only part of the story.

Abstract

Dryland forests provide essential resources critical to the survival of human and animal populations. They are particularly important in developing countries where community livelihoods are often directly dependent upon the use of natural resources in these habitats. In Botswana, as elsewhere in Africa, dryland forests are under increasing pressure with concomitant degradation in ecosystem services. Active management is constrained by a limited understanding of ongoing threats to dryland forest resources. Using key search terms, we conducted a systematic review of published literature in order to evaluate research trends, resource threats and knowledge gaps in respect of dryland forest resources occurring in Botswana and the Southern African region. Of the 221 publications identified (1974-2016), fire and elephant research dominate the scientific literature (58%), often in combination with each other (11%). While other threats are noted and considered important (agriculture, climate change, commercial harvesting, disease and pests, exotic invasive species and human encroachment), there remains a paucity of research on these topics. These data suggest that there is an urgent need to expand the research agenda in the forest sector prioritizing other threat types rather than continued focus on elephants and fire.