Original Research

Fuelwood availability and use in the Richtersveld National Park, South Africa

C.M. Shackleton, G. Guthrie, J. Keirungi, J. Stewart
Koedoe | Vol 46, No 2 | a66 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v46i2.66 | © 2003 C.M. Shackleton, G. Guthrie, J. Keirungi, J. Stewart | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 December 2003 | Published: 18 December 2003

About the author(s)

C.M. Shackleton, Rhodes University, South Africa
G. Guthrie, Rhodes University, South Africa
J. Keirungi, Rhodes University, South Africa
J. Stewart, Rhodes University, South Africa

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Abstract

Concern has been voiced about the possible over-use of fuelwood from the riparian fringe by pastoralist herders in the Richtersveld National Park (RNP). This coincided with the current examination and modelling of the supply and use of ecosystem goods and services in the Gariep Basin as part of the Southern African Millennium Assessment (SAfMA). This paper reports on a study to index the current availability of deadwood within the riparian zone of RNP, its relationship with proximity to human habitation, and species preferences of the local herders. Deadwood availability was assessed per woody species and on the ground in 12 transects within the riparian fringe. Herders were interviewed regarding their species preferences, and the composition of woodpiles was examined. There was no relationship between the percentage of attached deadwood on the tree, or the percentage deadwood ground cover, and the distance from herder stockposts. Euclea pseudobenus and Tamarix usneoides were the dominant species in the riparian fringe. There was strong selection for Ziziphus mucronata as a fuelwood species and only marginal or random selection for E. pseudobenus. Tamarix usneoides and Prosopis sp. were abundant in the riparian zone, but were not used for fuelwood. There was a significant difference between species with respect to the mean proportion of the stem that was dead, the highest being Z. mucronata (± 28 % deadwood), followed by T. usneoides (± 12 %). Most of the Prosopis trees had no deadwood. Across all species, the mean percentage dead per tree was approximately 15 %. Additionally, detached deadwood covered just less than 9 % of ground area, averaged across all plots and transects. All the variables measured indicated that there seems to be little need for concern over the current fuelwood extraction activities of pastoralists within the RNP. There was no clear evidence of cutting of branches or deadwood. The abundance of both attached and detached deadwood was not depleted close to human habitation. There was still abundant deadwood, even on preferred species. The most preferred species (Ziziphus mucronata) had the greatest mean proportion of deadwood. The herders stated that they only used deadwood, and that there was plenty. They rarely used driftwood washed down the river, although there was an abundance of it. Thus, overall, there was no sign of depletion of the deadwood resource, even on favoured species, or degradation of the productive capacity for deadwood.

Keywords

deadwood; fuelwood; preference; riparian fringe; selection

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Crossref Citations

1. Measuring conditions and trends in ecosystem services at multiple scales: the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SA f MA) experience
A.S van Jaarsveld, R Biggs, R.J Scholes, E Bohensky, B Reyers, T Lynam, C Musvoto, C Fabricius
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences  vol: 360  issue: 1454  first page: 425  year: 2005  
doi: 10.1098/rstb.2004.1594