Invasive Species Compendium

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Evaluation of communal rangeland condition under the east griqualand veld type of Eastern Cape province, South Africa.

Abstract

Rangeland condition is defined as the state of health of rangeland in terms of species diversity and the potential for producing good quality forage for livestock. However, these rangelands are gradually declining due to poor resource management, land degradation and climate change, which poses a serious threat to the natural resources and economic development of South Africa. The aim of the study was to assess communal rangeland condition in terms of species composition, to determine woody density, browsing unit (BU/ha) and tree equivalents of woody plants at Santombe communal grazing lands. The study was conducted in four sites, which were selected based on the similar land use. In each site 100m x 50m were demarcated, three parallel transects of 3m x 100m were measured per site. Within each belt transect, line transect of 100m were measured to determine grasses composition using step point method. Woody plants occurring within a belt transect were identified, counted and recorded to evaluate woody plant species composition, density, browsing unit and tree equivalents. Fifteen grass species were identified, 80% were increasers, 13% decreaser and 7% exotic species. Fourteen woody species were identified, 64% were acceptable and 36% were unacceptable to goats. Rhamnus prinoides and Scutia myrtina were the most dominant species. Site 2 (2508 plants/ha) and site 1 (2112 plants/ha) had the highest plant density, while site 4 (2310 BU/ha) had the highest browsing unit compared to site 1, 2 and 3. Abundance of increaser species was a clear indication of rangeland deterioration. High percentage of acceptable wood plants showed a great potential for sustainable goat production. It was recommended that farmers should establish rangeland farmer's association, which will assist in formulating rules and regulations for better utilisation of their feeding resources.