Subproject 3 - Sustainable rangeland management based on geo-biofeedback knowledge

Summary & Objectives:

This OPTIMASS subproject aims at quantifying feedbacks between rangeland management (current practices and options of restoration and mitigation) on the one hand, and vegetation and key ecosystem services (i.e. biodiversity and water provision) on the other. A participatory approach for the knowledge exchange between stakeholders and scientists is applied.

In particular, the following key objectives are addressed: 

  1.  Assessment of land use-vegetation-soil moisture feedbacks along degradation gradients under domestic livestock and game management. 
  2. Understanding the role of biological macropores in enhancing soil water infiltration as key ecosystem services in relation to the diversity of bioturbating animals (i.e. invertebrates and small mammals). 
  3. Analysing the effects of fire management as a means to control bush encroachment on feedbacks between vegetation cover, biodiversity and soil hydrology. Combating and con- trolling bush encroachment is the key challenge in savanna rangelands, but symptom treatment through the use of arboricides and mechanical means is very expensive. 
  4. Assessing the potential of reseeding debushed rangelands and analysing the feedbacks between vegetation recovery and soil hydrology. Restoration of degraded (bush encroached) rangelands by debushing often shows rather limited long term success, since palatable perennial grasses do not always re-establish
  5. Application of a participatory stakeholder-scientist dialogue for knowledge exchange and identification of  (i) stakeholder-defined benchmark sites that represent best practice examples of past management, and  (ii) current and historic management strategies (focus on game management) that will be used as management scenarios for S1 [link] and the Umbrella project [link].


Involved Researchers:

  • PD Dr. Niels Blaum (PI)
  • Dr. Morgan Hauptfleisch (PI)
  • Dr. David Francois Joubert (PI)
  • Arnim Marquart (PhD student)