The extent of woody plant invasion in selected sites of the communally managed Molopo District, North West Province.
Mogodi, Phemelo, P.
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Woody plant invasion (bush encroachment) is a problem in the semi arid communal areas of the North West Province which had been affecting the Molopo Area as early as 1960. It affects the livelihoods of the communal farmer because it reduces carrying capacity and is a form of veld degradation. The extent of woody plant encroachment was quantified at selected sites and reference sites in the Molopo District. There was a study site and reference site selected in a commercially managed area. Soil samples from these selected sites were also analysed for chemical and physical properties as well as nutrient content that could have an influence on the proliferation of the woody plants. Social surveys were also conducted to investigate the perceptions and influence of the affected communities towards woody plant invasion. The prominent species identified in the area included Acacia mellifera, Dichrostachys cenerea, Prosopis velutina and Terminalia sericea. All of the study sites, except the benchmark sites, had woody plant densities of more than 2 000 TE/ha that according to Moore & Odendaal (1987), almost totally suppress grass growth. It was clear from the data that the nutrient status of soils of encroached areas was higher than the benchmark sites although some of the differences were statistically insignificant. Organic carbon was higher at most of the encroached sites (71 % of the sites) where 80 % of the enriched sites had significantly higher organic carbon than that of the benchmark sites. There is a need to develop small scale farming practices that are appropriate in terms of sustainable development in the local context.