13 February 2018

Namibia: Govt Hard At Work to Save Rangelands

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 undertaken by the Directorate Agricultural Research and Development (DARD) to achieve the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) objectives.

Elina Shekupe Nakanyala, senior officer in the Directorate of Pasture Research in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), says DARD has for the past two years been focusing on the importance of Namibia's rangelands at local, national and international levels.

The understanding of the national rangeland management principles among 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, adding that the implementation of the NRMPS on commercial and resettled farms, in communal areas and in national protected areas, is supported.

Stakeholders' knowledge and understanding of the principles of rangeland management have been enhanced and the principles of sound rangeland management have been introduced over the past two years. 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 at Okapya (35 km east of Casa Blanca - Oshikoto) in February last year. Results for planting Anthephora pubescens, Cenchrus ciliaris, Brizantha marandu (from Brazseed) and Digitariaeriantha look promising and farmers have been engaged to boost farm fodder flow.

Future plans entail planting at Sachinga (Zambezi), Alex Muranda (Kavango West) and Oshaambelo (Omusati).

In addressing bush encroachment, a map on distribution of four encroacher bush species - Rhigozum trichotomum, Acacia mellifera, Catophractes alexandri and Acacia nebrowni in southern Namibia - is envisaged. The use of arboricides to control encroacher bush 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 savanna of northern Namibia and the dwarf shrub savanna in southern Namibia.

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Picture: Strategies Rangeland

Preserving assets... The vast rangelands of the Otjozondjupa region are regarded as a national natural asset and should be preserved at all costs.

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