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Current range condition in relation to land management systems in semi-arid savannas of Swaziland

Tefera, Solomon, Dlamini, B.J., Dlamini, A.M., Mlambo, V.
African journal of ecology 2008 v.46 no.2 pp. 158-167
conservation areas, grasses, land management, landscapes, management systems, palatability, rangelands, savannas, soil, woody plants, Swaziland
Rangeland condition was assessed in the lowveld of Swaziland to determine the current status with emphasis on contrasting different land management systems and soil classes in two study areas. The assessment incorporated the grass and woody plant layer. The methods employed to evaluate the grass layer were ecological condition index (ECI) and weighted palatability composition (WPC). The government ranch had significantly higher ECI (mean 714.5) and WPC (mean 61) than the communal land (mean: ECI - 533.5; WPC - 48.7) and the game reserve (mean: ECI - 578.9; WPC - 47.9). The ECI and WPC values did not differ between the soil classes in most cases (range: ECI 551.5-645.9 and WPC - 43.7-57.6). The density of all woody plants and encroaching plants alone were the highest in communal land. Basal cover ranged from poor (2-3%) to good (>5%), while bare ground was rated from low (<1%) to high (>5%). Overall results showed great variability of studied variables at site and landscape levels of resolution. Generally, the grass layer was rated between fair and good when assessed on the basis of ecological and palatability merits. There was a clear indication of advancement of bush encroachment.