The Impact of Grazing on Rangeland Ecosystem: A Study of the Change of the Guinea Savanna Vegetation in the Tolon-Kumbungu District in the Northern Region

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Factors such as rapid increases in population growth, the desire on the part of government to confine and sedentrarize nomads which discourages free movement of people and livestock are rapidly reducing the proportion of climax woody species in savanna vegetation. This situation sets the succession to begin at the serial stage, sometimes dominated by invasive weeds. These plants are not palatable to grazing animals and their prevalence in an area, may therefore affect the use of the area for grazing. A study was conducted in an area commonly known as the Jaagbo grove cluster of villages near Tolon, the administrative capital of the Tolon-Kumbungu District of the Northern Region. The vegetation of the area is Guinea Savanna. The aim of the study was to determine the impact of using the Guinea Savanna for grazing. The study consisted of field and questionnaire surveys. The study area (the experimental area) was used for grazing domestic animals including cattle. The control was an area which has been designated as fetish grove and has been protected from all forms of exploitation over the years. The two areas were adjacent to each other. In each area an area of 640m2 was delimited and divided into 64 square plots, within each of which four 5m2 quadrats were randomly placed. In each quadrat the relative abundance of the various plant species was quantified. The environmental data were also collected to correspond with each quadrat. In the questionnaire survey the local knowledge of the field study clearly revealed that grazing has had a lot of influence on the vegetating of the area. Whereas the vegetation of the control area was a typical Guinea Savanna type with a greater proportion of the vegetation being tree species, the experimental area vegetation was predominantly grasses. It was also observed that some tree species such as combretum molle, Gardeniaerubescens, Mitragyna enermis and Bombax which were common in the control area had disappeared in the experimental area. Almost all the plant species identified as weeds were found mostly in the experimental area, which was also relatively poor in nutrient status. The respondents in the questionnaire survey were however, of the view that bush fires are the major cause of change in the vegetation of the area.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the Degree of Master of Science (Environmental science), September-2010