Bush Encroachment in Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Botswana


Image: A Zebra in a Senegalia mellifera bush thicket, Mokolodi Nature Reserve.


SteamBio Limited and Carbon Capital representatives visited the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, 10 km south of Gaborone, Botswana. It was immediately noticeable that areas of the nature reserve were affected by bush encroachment, with Senegalia mellifera (Black Thorn) being one of the dominant encroacher species.


Video: During the game drive, the wildlife was sometimes difficult to see due to the dense bush encroachment, which can negatively impact the experience for the tourists and visitors.


Notably, there have been some bush thinning efforts within the nature reserve in order to reduce the severity of bush encroachment, as well as to help restore grass cover in areas with exposed soils using a technique called brush packing.


Image: Brush packing on bare areas to stimulate grass cover.


Brush packing is when harvested biomass material, typically the finer branches from the bush canopies are spread across bare and/or open areas to encourage restoration of the grass and herbaceous layers. Brush packing offers protection to establishing grasses from being grazed and allows the grass to mature and seed. Brush packing also provides soil cover, reducing soil surface temperatures and acts to buffer the impact of rainfall on the exposed soils, slowing water runoff and helping to prevent grass seeds from blowing away. Eventually, this brush packing material decomposes.


Video: The video shows the contrast in vegetation between different sides of the road. On the right hand side is an enclosure used to house rehabilitated cheetah. The bush within the enclosure has been actively managed and grazing pressure within the enclosure is greatly reduced. On the left hand side, the land is open and no evident bush management has taken place, and it has likely been subjected to more grazing pressure. The enclosed area is the more desirable, being that of a balanced woodland savannah system, whereby the area on the opposite side is less desirable, typical of degraded rangelands affected by bush encroachment. Video taken at Mokolodi Nature Reserve.



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