Focus on rangeland importance

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

Developing a more up-to-date map on the distribution of encroacher bush in Namibia is but one of the many actions and strategies by the Directorate of Agricultural Research and Development (DARD) to achieve the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategies (NRMPS) objectives.
Senior DARD officer Elina Shekupe Nakanyala says they have for the past two years been focusing on the importance of Namibia’s rangelands at local, national and international levels. Understanding of the national rangeland management principles by all stakeholders has improved and best practices and lessons learnt regarding sound rangeland management are being identified, documented and widely shared.
She assures that sufficient support structures to implement the NRMPS are in place and functional, despite the challenge of cash flow. The implementation of the NRMPS on commercial, resettled and communal areas and in national protected areas is supported.
In the past two years, stakeholders’ knowledge and understanding of the principles of rangeland management have been enhanced and the principles of sound rangeland management have been introduced. All farmers’ unions are participating.
Resource bases are monitored and baseline vegetation data collected and the conditions assessed to determine the effect/impact. The resettlement farm Gellap-Ost has been used to monitor the resource base and the effective utilisation of plants. A study was also conducted to achieve the correct stocking rates and to develop a carrying capacity model. In planning for drought, four cultivated pasture species trials were conducted this February at Okapya, 35 km east of Casa Blanca in Oshikoto. Results for planting Anthephora pubescens, Cenchrus ciliaris, Brizantha marandu (fromBrazseed) and Digitariaeriantha look promising and farmers have been engaged to boost farm fodder flow.
Future plans entail planting at Sachinga (Zambezi), Alex Muranda (KavangoWest) and Oshaambelo (Omusati). In addressing bush encroachment, the aim is to develop a map on distribution of four encroacher bush species – Rhigozum trichotomum, Acacia mellifera, Catophractes alexandri and Acacia nebrowni – in southern Namibia.
The use of arboricides to control encroacher bush control and the effect thereof on grass production has also been studied as well as gradual bush thinning and the effect thereof on bush regeneration.
Ongoing research projects include the fodder bank at Sandveld RS, where a grazing system is tested and to improve botanical composition and carrying capacity. A Grazing Index Value project was established to determine rangeland condition and grazing capacity.
The BECVol (Browse Estimate Canopy Volume) project was introduced to determine the browsing capacities of the Mopane savannah of northern Namibia and the dwarf shrub savannah in southern Namibia.
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Picture: Strategies Rangeland
CAPTION:
Browsing capacity… Team members of the Becvol Project work in the field to determine the browsing capacity of the Mopane savannah of northern Namibia.
Photo: Contributed

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