Screening key browse species in a semi-arid rangeland
Cogent Food & Agriculture
Rangeland productivity in semi-arid areas is adversely affected by increased variability in precipitation and frequency of droughts, coupled by increased livestock numbers. Knowledge on key rangeland resources that have capacity to increase resilience of livestock based rural livelihoods is critical for ensuring their sustainability. In this study, we identified key browse species used by livestock during the dry season, and determined their multiple uses in a semi-arid rangeland of Zimbabwe.
... land of Zimbabwe. Random sampling was used to select 138 respondents for participating in individual qualitative questionnaires, and seven key informants for a focus group discussion. The Cultural Significance Index was calculated to determine the importance of the key browse species identified. An index to determine risk associated with competitive use of key browse species based on individual species uses and relative abundance as an indicator for species sustainability was also introduced. Twenty-eight key species used as browse by livestock and wildlife, and for ethnoveterinary and human medicines were identified. Species that were common to all uses constituted 25% (n = 7) of the total. No species (n = 0) had a single purpose only or, were used for both medicines and firewood/timber. Therefore, screening key browse species facilitates their sustainability.