Impacts of cattle on ecological restoration of coastal forests in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
AbstractLivestock from communities bordered by dune mining, urban areas and commercial forestry in northern KwaZulu-Natal spend substantial time foraging in the coastal forest that the mining company is obliged to restore. A survey of livestock owners and an experimental study of impacts of cattle on restoration processes were conducted to develop better knowledge of the perceptions of livestock owners neighbouring the mine, and the impacts of their cattle on rehabilitating coastal dune forest. Shortages of grazing and livestock diseases were perceived to be the major constraints on livestock operations. Mitigation included grazing cattle in the rehabilitating forest and treating livestock diseases with available medicinal plant species. An exclosure experiment in one of the older stands undergoing restoration showed that cattle grazing reduced grass biomass and Acacia kosiensis seedling recruitment. A study of seeds collected from cattle dung showed that Psidium guajava, an important invasive alien woody species, was dispersed by cattle into the rehabilitating forest, but passage through cattle did not enhance germination of the invasive species. The study concluded that: (1) the proximity of livestock owners to large-scale commercial land uses influenced their perceptions and their resources, and (2) grazing and trampling by cattle in the rehabilitating dune forest may hinder the ecological restoration process.
Keywords: Acacia karroo; communal grazing; dune mining; Psidium guajava; seed dispersal
African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2009, 26(1): 1–7