Cutting and resprouting of Detarium microcarpum and herbaceous forage availability in a semiarid environment in Burkina Faso
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- Rietkerk*, M., Blijdorp, R. & Slingerland, M. Agroforestry Systems (1998) 41: 201. doi:10.1023/A:1006044630728
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The tree-shrub savanna ‘Forêt Classée de Nazinon’ (Burkina Faso) is submitted to a management of grazing and rotational cutting of Detarium microcarpum. This species resprouts after cutting. In order to investigate whether this silvopastoral land use system is sustainable, aboveground herbaceous biomass was measured on subplots under uncut trees (‘uncut’), next to the stubs of cut trees (‘cut’) and on subplots not influenced by the (former) crowns of trees (‘open grassland’) in four lots. These lots were cut one, three, six and seven years before the study. Vegetation composition of the lots and the composition of the diet of cattle were also determined. Comparisons were made between treatments and lots. Herbaceous biomass was lower in the open grassland subplots than in uncut or cut subplots. We speculate that soil enrichment and more efficient precipitation input in (former) tree crown zones could have resulted in this pattern. Cutting and subsequent resprouting of trees did not lead to significant differences in herbaceous biomass between cut and uncut subplots. The most simple explanation for this is that the trees could extend their roots beyond the location of their neighbouring trees. Biomass and coverage of perennial grasses, mainly Andropogon ascinodis and Andropogon gayanus, did not change in lots cut one, three or six years before the study, but decreased dramatically in lots that were cut seven years before the study. When foraging, cattle spent more than 90% of their time feeding on these species. This indicates that, as a consequence of tree cutting, forage availability may be reduced to the point where local herdsmen are forced to take their cattle to another region.