Conservation Biology

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


A Rangeland is an area of natural land or vegetation which is used for grazing and browsing animals. Rangelands are usually covered by native grasses, but they can consist of introduced species that can be managed similarly to native ones. [1]

Rangelands are among the land uses which are facing severe land degradation. Overstocking, inadequate stock watering point and fire suppression are causing a decrease in palatable grass species which are then replaced by less palatable trees and woody shrubs. Overstocking i.e. (placing of large number of animals on piece of land exceeding the carrying capacity of that area) is a serious problem which leads to over-utilisation of grasses and never regenerate. [2]

Inadequate number of watering point is another major problem behind rangeland degradation. Most rangelands within South Africa, for example Karoo and Savanna are too dry as a result of climate and therefore there is a need to support adequate water. If rangeland is found to have few number of watering point this simple mean that all animals have to concentrate on those few watering point. These concentrations by animals result to degradation of vegetation and soil resulting from trampling effect. [2]

Uncontrolled and frequent fires. Most of the fires in rangelands are not properly controlled, As a result of frequent fires; rangelands do not have time to recover from the effect of previous fire event. Most of these fires burn uncontrollable, at wrong season or inappropriate weather condition. Most palatable grasses are unable to regenerate thereby replaced by thorny scrub bush which are not palatable. [2]

Encroachment of development projects. These arise from increase in population and economic development. The result is a need for land to be used in infrastructural development i.e. settlement, public utilities, roads and others. Because of their proliferation, they are reducing the size of rangelands. Pollution from development project causes deterioration in the condition of rangelands. [2]

The consideration for sustainable rangeland management is a possible way to make efficient use of range resources while conserving and improving such range resources. To achieve this include the following measures: Land capability class, this involves to classify land and put it as rangeland if fall on suitable class. When classifying the land, it can be found that land is suitable for forestry, wild life, cultivation or grazing. Actual stocking rate, this is to determine the actual number of livestock that could be sustainably kept on a unit area. It will ensure that rangeland not stressed. Biomass level, nutrition value, palatability and seasonality will determine the number of livestock. [3]

Provision of sufficient and properly distribution of water can be another way of solving the problem. Animals prefer to graze where there is water; therefore watering point should be evenly distributed to the entire rangeland. Rangeland restoration and rehabilitation is another way to repair the damage posed to the rangeland. The aim here is to allow each range land to recover its good conditions. [3]

Paddocking can be the best way for range land management. This means dividing the land into cells or camps which can be fenced either by wires or other fencing materials. Each paddock will be then opened for animals at a particular point and closed at specified period. This will allow rotational burning without affecting entire rangeland and rotational grazing. [3]

In many South African rangelands, interventions need to be done. Researcher into rangelands management in South Africa must continue in order to deepen our understanding of this issue. This of course will help to develop appropriate solutions


1. Wikipedia contributors. Rangeland [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Dec 24, 03:43 UTC [cited 2007 Feb 27].
Available from:

2. Hudak A.T. (1999) Rangeland Mismanagement in South Africa: Failure to Apply Ecological Knowledge. Human Ecology, volume 27, pp. 55-78(24)
[Internet] Available from:

3. Palmer .T and Ainslie .A. Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles [Internet] [Cited 2007 Feb 27] Available from:

Mr Lufuno Mukwevho
CSIR Pretoria
P.O. Box 395Pretoria
Tel: (012) 841 2133
Fax: 012 842 7024
Cell: 0723175626


  • Just one thing...your references are a bit light (especially your second one, which, according to the link I followed, is just an abstract). It really shouldn't be too hard to find references to back up any statement you make that is based on solid footing.

    By Blogger NcK, at March 05, 2007 11:24 AM  

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