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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 37, Issue 1–3, pp 103–110 | Cite as

Where, why, and to what extent have rangelands in the Karoo, South Africa, desertified

  • W. R. J. Dean
  • S. J. Milton
  • M. A. Du Plessis
Article

Abstract

We used simple questionnaire surveys to obtain rough categorical information on the status of semiarid and arid rangelands in the Karoo, South Africa. We sent questionnaires to extension officers of the Department of Agricultural Development, asking them to rank the condition of the rangeland in their extension districts (usually about 500 farms) on a three- or five-point scale. The questionnaire also sought information on the possible reasons for changes in the condition of the rangelands; vegetation types most at risk on mismanaged rangelands; and changes in the status of plants, birds, and mammals. Extension officers rated 35% of the semiarid rangelands in southwestern South Africa (the Karoo and southern Kalahari Desert) as being in poor condition. There was some congruency between the perceived condition of the agricultural extension district and the percentage that the stocking rate had decreased. Rangeland condition in more arid areas tends to be poor. Stocking rates have decreased disproportionately more in arid areas than in the more mesic areas of southwestern South Africa. Grasses were rated as the most threatened group of plants, and succulents the least threatened group. Overgrazing in the past was considered to be the most important cause of present-day rangeland condition, followed by present overstocking of rangelands. Antelope were considered more threatened by rangeland management than mammalian carnivores. Avian raptors and bustards, gamebirds, and tortoises were all perceived to be threatened by rangeland mismanagement.

Keywords

Environmental Management Vegetation Type Questionnaire Survey Poor Condition Agricultural Development 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. R. J. Dean
    • 1
  • S. J. Milton
    • 1
  • M. A. Du Plessis
    • 1
  1. 1.FitzPatrick InstituteUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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