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University of Cape Town (2000)

Is there a future for livestock farming in Southern Namibia’s communal lands ?

Kuiper, Saskia Marijke

Titre : Is there a future for livestock farming in Southern Namibia’s communal lands ?

Auteur : Kuiper, Saskia Marijke

Université de soutenance : University of Cape Town

Grade : M.Phil. 2000

The viability of livestock farming in southern Namibia’s communal areas is investigated. Small stock farming is ubiquitous in this semi-arid region, and provides many people with their only source of wealth and income. However, it is thought that grazing by livestock negatively impacts on the vegetation resource. Using both interviews and interpretation of sequential aerial photographs, veld resilience and changes vegetation composition and cover were analysed. Results provide contrasting evidence. Veld resilience is illustrated by good plant regeneration after the 1999/2000 rainy season. This observation supports the disequilibrium theory, which hypothesises that, in semi-arid areas, productivity is primarily event driven and not influenced by grazing pressure. A number of other observations, however, dispute this paradigm. Results herein show that vegetation composition has changed in the communal lands from palatable perennials, to unpalatable annuals. In addition, localised areas of degradation are evident near homesteads, waterpoints, drainage channels and hills and slopes. Using sequential aerial photography, a comparison of veld which changed from commercial to communal tenure highlights changes in vegetation cover. Analysis of land units from when the farm was under commercial tenure (1970) to after it had been incorporated into Namaland (1998), indicates an increase in bare soil from 6.3-11%. This increase is attributed to increased pressure form livestock grazing. Although separating these anthropogenic factors from other, biophysical ones is difficult, appropriate management practices should slow down the rate of degradation. Such initiatives include ; a) a decrease in stock numbers and the elimination of freeloaders, such as feral horses, b) grazing co-operatives to allow both the veld to rest and facilitate free, unpredictable movement within the communal areas, and, c) alternative income generation, such as nature-based tourism.

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