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O'Connor, T.G., Puttick, J.R. and Hoffman, M.T. 2014. Bush encroachment in southern Africa: changes and causes. African Journal of Range and Forage Science (Special Issue: Bush encroachment - changes, causes, consequences and cures), 31(2): 67-88


Description:

Bush encroachment in southern Africa: changes and causes.

Summary / Notes:

Bush encroachment has been recognised in southern Africa since the late nineteenth century. Our review of 23 studies showed that the rate of woody cover change has ranged from −0.131 to 1.275% y−1. Encroachment was most rapid on small protected areas, intermediate under commercial tenure, and slowest under communal tenure and large, natural environments with mega-herbivores present. Several drivers of bush encroachment, which interact and change over time, have been proposed. Fires, for example, were actively suppressed during the early twentieth century. However, rainfall interacts with fire and the rate of woody increase under fire exclusion is linearly related to mean annual rainfall. A reduction in browsing herbivores from the nineteenth century would have had a positive cumulative effect on woody cover whilst an increase in grazing herbivores would have reduced the competitive effect of grasses. Encroachment was most rapid during the high rainfall, mid-1970s, which followed the 1960s drought when cattle numbers were at their peak, and the grass layer was degraded. Increasing atmospheric [CO2] and climate change have emerged as important drivers in the recent literature. Bush encroachment depends on the interplay of history, environment, management and vegetation, recognition of which is essential for containing encroachment. Keywords: atmospheric CO2, browsing pressure, demographic bottleneck, rnfire suppression, livestock trends.

Year: 2014

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2989/10220119.2014.939996#.VIcKnmctBHg


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