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Prescribed fire as a tool for managing shrub encroachment in semi-arid savanna rangelands

  • Savanna rangelands worldwide are threatened by shrub encroachment, i.e. the increase of woody plant species at the cost of perennial grasses, causing a strong decline in the productivity of domestic livestock production. Although recent studies indicate that fire might be of great importance for semi-arid and arid savanna dynamics, it is largely not applied in the management of semi-arid rangelands especially with regard to woody plant control. We used the eco-hydrological savanna model EcoHyD to simulate the effects of different fire management strategies on semi-arid savanna vegetation and to assess their longterm suitability for semi-arid rangeland management. Simulation results show that prescribed fires, timed to kill tree seedlings prevented shrub encroachment for a broad range of livestock densities while the possible maximum long-term cattle densities on the simulated semi-arid rangeland in Namibia increased by more than 30%. However, when grazing intensity was too high, fire management failed in preventing shrub encroachment.Savanna rangelands worldwide are threatened by shrub encroachment, i.e. the increase of woody plant species at the cost of perennial grasses, causing a strong decline in the productivity of domestic livestock production. Although recent studies indicate that fire might be of great importance for semi-arid and arid savanna dynamics, it is largely not applied in the management of semi-arid rangelands especially with regard to woody plant control. We used the eco-hydrological savanna model EcoHyD to simulate the effects of different fire management strategies on semi-arid savanna vegetation and to assess their longterm suitability for semi-arid rangeland management. Simulation results show that prescribed fires, timed to kill tree seedlings prevented shrub encroachment for a broad range of livestock densities while the possible maximum long-term cattle densities on the simulated semi-arid rangeland in Namibia increased by more than 30%. However, when grazing intensity was too high, fire management failed in preventing shrub encroachment. Our findings indicate that with regard to fire management a clear distinction between mesic and more arid savannas is necessary: While the frequency of fires is of relevance for mesic savannas, we recommend a fire management focussing on the timing of fire for semi-arid and arid savannas. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Dirk Lohmann, Britta Tietjen, Niels Blaum, David Francois Joubert, Florian JeltschORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2014.04.003
ISSN:0140-1963 (print)
ISSN:1095-922X (online)
Parent Title (English):Journal of arid environments
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2014
Year of Completion:2014
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Acacia mellifera; Bush encroachment; Dry land degradation; Rangeland management; Simulation model; Southern Africa
Volume:107
Pagenumber:8
First Page:49
Last Page:56
Funder:German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) through the framework of BIOTA, southern Africa [01LC0024]; Sandveld Research station
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert