Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 429–441 | Cite as

Clearcutting Brazilian caatinga: assessment of a traditional forest grazing management practice

  • R. D. Kirmse
  • F. D. Provenza
  • J. C. Malechek


Clearcutting is a common practice for removing woody vegetation in the semiarid tropics of northeast Brazil. The prevalent belief is that clearing increases carrying capacity for livestock by increasing herbaceous vegetation, yet little empirical evidence exists to support or refute the contention. We investigated the implications to small ruminant nutrition of clearcutting in the semiarid tropics of northeast Brazil. We found that biomass of herbaceous species increased sixfold following cutting of trees, but much of this increase was in the form of poorly palatable stem. The large supply of leaf litter from woody species that was typical of uncleared areas during the dry season was replaced by persistent green foliage on coppicing trees the year following clearing. This green foliage may enhance the nutritional quality of the diets of sheep and goats foraging on cleared areas during the dry season.

Key words

semiarid woodlands clearcutting coppice goat and sheep nutrition leaf litter production herbage production herbage chemical composition 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    AOAC (1975) Official methods of analysis (12th Ed.). Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Auraujo Filho JA, Torres SM, Gadelha JA, Maciel DF, Catunda AM (1982) Estudos de pastagem nativa do Ceara. Estudos economicos e sociais 13. Banco do Nordeste do Brasil, Fortaleza, 75 pGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Arnold GW (1964) Factors within plant associations affecting the behavior and performance of grazing animals. In: Crisp, DJ ed, Grazing in terrestrial and marine environments, pp 133–154. A Symp Brit Ecol Soc. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bailey RW (1973) Structural Carbohydrates. In: Butler GW and Bailey RW, eds, Chemistry and biochemistry of herbage, Vol I, pp 157–211. Academic Press, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Barnes D (1979) Cattle ranching in the semi-arid savannas of East and Southern Africa. In: Walker BH, ed, Management of semi-arid ecosystems, pp 9–59. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beale IF (1973) Tree density effects on yields of herbage and tree components in south west Queensland mulga (Acacia aneura F. Muell.) scrub. Trop Grassl 7: 135–142Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Beaty ER and Engel JL (1980) Forage quality measurements and forage research — a review, critique and interpretation. J Range Manage 33: 49–54Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Blake TJ (1983) Coppice systems for short-rotation intensive forestry: the influence of cultural, seasonal and plant factors. Aust For Res 13: 279–291Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bryant JP, Reichardt P, Clausen T and Chapin FS III (1985) Adaptation to resource availability as a determinant of chemical defense strategies in woody plants. In: Cooper-Driver GA, Swain T and Conn EE, eds, Chemically mediated interactions between plants and other organisms, pp 219–237. Plenum, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bucher EH (1982) Chaco and Caatinga — South America Arid Savannas, Woodlands and Thickets. pp 48–79. In: BJ Huntley and BH Walker (eds) Ecology of Tropical Savannas. Springer-Verland Berlin Heidelberg. N.Y.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Christiansen-Weniger F (1977) Possibilities and prospects of dry-farming in the regions of north-east Brazil with an unreliable rainfall. In: Muller P, ed, Ecosystem research in South America, pp 101–151. Dr. W Junk BV Publishers, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Denardin JE and DeFreitas PL (1982) Caracteristicas fundamentais da chuva no Brasil. Pesq Agropec Bras 17: 1409–1416Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Eiten G and Goodland R (1979) Ecology and management of semi-arid ecosystems in Brazil. In: Walker BH, ed, Management of semi-arid ecosystems. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ferri MG (1980) Vegetacao Brasileria. Edicao da Universidade de Sao PauloGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Goering HK and Van Soest PJ (1970) Forage fiber analysis. Agr Res Ser USDA Agric Handbook No 379, 20 pGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gutierrez N, Deboer AJ and Ubiraci J (1981) Interacoes de recursos e caracteristicas econmicas dos criadores de ovinos ecaprinos no Sertao do Caera, Nordeste do Brasil: Resultados preliniares. EMBRAPA-CNPC, Boletim de Pesquisa No 3, 49 pGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Harker KW, Torell DT and Van Dyne GM (1964) Botanical examination of forage from esophagela fistulas in cattle. J Anim Sci 23: 465–469Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Johnson AW (1971) Sharecroppers of the Sertao: Economics and dependence on a Brazilian plantation. Stanford Univ Press, Stanford, Ca, 149 pGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kirmse RD, JA Pfister, LV Vale and JS de Queiros (1983) Woody plants of the northern Ceara caatinga. Small Ruminant Collaborative Research Support Program. Tech Report Series No 14. Utah State Univ, Logan, UT. 49 pGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kirmse RD (1984) Effects of Clearcutting on Forage Production, Quality and Decomposition in the Caatinga Woodland of Northeast Brazil: Implications to Goat and Sheep Nutrition. Ph.D. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, UT. 165 pGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kozlowski TT (1971) Growth and development of trees. V (1) Seed germination, ontogeny, and shoot growth. Academic Press, New York, 443 pGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mason IL (1980) Sheep and goat production in the drought polygon of Northeast Brazil. World Animal Review 34: 23–28Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    McCammon-Feldman B (1980) A critical analusis of tropical savanna forage consumption and utilization by goats. PhD Thesis, Univ of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 297 pGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mould ED and Robbins CT (1981) Nitrogen metabolism in elk. J Wildl Manage 45: 323–334Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Odum EP (1960) Organic production and turnover in old field succession. Ecology 41: 34–49Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Pfister JA and Burritt EA (1985) Fiber composition of fistulate extrusa samples: influence of low temperature oven drying. Proc 38th Ann Meeting Soc Range Manage, Salt Lake City, UTGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Pfister JA and Malechek JC (1986) Dietary selection by goats and sheep in a deciduous woodland of northeast Brazil. J Range Manage 39: 24–28Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Pfister JA and Malechek JC (1986) The voluntary forage intake and nutrition of goats and sheep in the semi-arid tropics of northeastern Brazil. J Anim Sci 63: 1078–1086Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pratchett D (1978) Effects of bush clearing on grasslands in Botswana. Proc First Internat'l Rangeland Cong, pp 667–670. Denver, COGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pratt DJ and Knight J (1971) Brush control studies in the dryer areas of Kenya. V. Effects of controlled burning and grazing management on Tarconanthus/Acacia thicket. J Appl Ecol 8: 217–237Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Primov G (1982) Small ruminant production in the Sertao of Ceara, Brazil: A sociological analysis. Small Ruminant CRSP. Pub No 6. Dept Rural Sco Univ MO, Columbia, Missouri. 66 pGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Reddy SJ (1983) Agroclimatic classification of the semi-arid tropics. I. A method for the computation of classificatory variables. Agric Meteorology 30: 185–200Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Reddy SJ (1984) Climatic fluctuations and homogenization of northeast Brazil using precipitation data. Pesq Agropec Bras 19: 529–543Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tilley JMA and Terry RA (1963) A two-stage technique for the in vitro digestion of forage crops. J Brit Grassld Soc 18: 104–111Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Van Dyne GM, Brockington NR, Szocs Z, Duek J and Ribic CA (1980) Large herbivore system. In: Breymeyer AI and Van Dyne GM, eds, Grassland, systems analysis and man. Cambridge Univ Press, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Van Dyne GM and Torell DT (1964) Development and use of the esophageal fistula: a review. J Range Manage 17: 7–19Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Van Niekerk JP, Bester FV and Lombard HP (1978) Control of brush encroachment by aerial herbicide spraying, Proc First Internat'l Rangeland Cong, pp 659–663. Denver, COGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Van Soest PJ (1982) Nutritional ecology of the ruminant. O & B Books Inc., Corvallis, OR, 374 pGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Walker J, Moore RM and Robertson JA (1972) Herbage response to tree and shrub thinning in Eucalyptus populnea shrub woodlands. Aust J Agric Res 23: 405–410Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Weir WC and Torell DT (1959) Selective grazing by sheep as shown by a comparison of the chemical composition of range and pasture forage obtained by hand clipping and that collected by oesophageal-fistulated sheep. J Anim Sci 18: 641–649Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Whiteman PC (1980) Tropical pasture science. Oxford Univ Press, Oxford, 392 pGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Wilson JR (1981) Environmental and nutritional factors affecting herbage quality. In: Hacker JB, ed, Nutritional limits to animal production from pastures, pp 111–131. Commonwealth Agric Bureau, Slough, UKGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Kirmse
    • 1
  • F. D. Provenza
    • 2
  • J. C. Malechek
    • 2
  1. 1.IRG BioresourcesWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Range Science Dept.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations