influence of South Africa's post-apartheid land reform policies on bush encroachment and range condition: a case study of Fort Beaufort's municipal commonage | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 2014
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We examined the effect of changes in land use and land tenure on bush encroachment and vegetation condition. An analysis of aerial photographs from three time steps (1949, 1985 and 2004) was used to document changes in woody plant density in different vegetation types on commonage and an adjacent commercial farm in Fort Beaufort, South Africa. Rangeland condition was assessed in different vegetation units of the area and woody plant density was related to distance from urban settlement. Results showed that there has been an increase in woody plant cover in both commonage and commercial farming areas, particularly between 1949 and 1985. However, since 1985, increased rates of urbanisation have stabilised, and in some areas reduced, woody plant thickening, especially at locations closest to urban settlements. Bush encroachment is being controlled to some extent by fuelwood harvesting and goat browsing, resulting in a reduction in height of favoured woody species such as Acacia karroo (Vachellia karroo). There has been a shift to less palatable browse species on the commonage areas and the condition of the grass sward is poor. Change in woody plant cover is significantly influenced by changing patterns of land use and land tenure over time which, in turn, affect rangeland condition.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Puttick, James R
Hoffman, M Timm
Gambiza, James


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