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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Evaluation of rangeland condition in miombo woodlands in eastern Tanzania in relation to season and distance from settlements

Ruvuga, Peter; Wredle, Ewa; Nyberg, Gert; Hussein, Ramadhani Ally; Masao, Catherine A.; Selemani, Ismail Said; Sangeda, Anthony Zozimus; Kronqvist, Cecilia

Abstract

Miombo woodlands sustainability in east and south-central Africa is threatened by human activities, including overgrazing. This study investigated seasonal variations in rangeland condition in three grazed areas in miombo woodlands in eastern Tanzania. Transect lines were established across the grazing areas, sampling points were identified and marked at every 10% of the length of transect line. Sampling points were categorised in different distances with respect to settlement. The line intercept method was used to collect data on vegetation cover and forage distribution, while herbaceous forage biomass was estimated using a disc pasture meter. A total of 118 different plant species were observed and grasses comprised 40.6% of all herbaceous species. Bothriochloa pertusa, Cynodon plectostachyus, Hyparrhenia rufa and Urochloa mosambicensis grass species dominated miombo grazed areas in various seasons and distances. These perennial grass species are desirable and indicated moderate grazing activities in miombo. Season affected grass cover, herbaceous forage biomass and nutritional composition. Grass cover and forage biomass were at the lowest during late dry season while forage nutritional quality was best during early dry season. Distance from settlement had no effect on grass cover and herbaceous forage biomass. Rangeland condition was generally fair, livestock stocking rate in continuously grazed drylands should be set at the lowest monthly forage biomass in order to ensure grazing land sustainability.

Keywords

Dry woodlands; Botanical composition; Vegetation cover; Forage condition; Traditional herders

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2021, Volume: 290, article number: 1126353