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Restoration of degraded Nama Karoo - the role of conservation islands

Objective

* To record insect and floral biodiversity on inselbergs in the Nama-karoo, a semi-arid rangeland which covers a large geographical area in southern Africa (large part of RSA and Namibia).
* To measure the value of small hills (inselbergs) as habitat islands maintaining insect mutualists (preliminary evidence for this already exists) and to quantify the way in which plants and pollinators interact along gradients of elevation and land use, and with degree of isolation.
* To measure the value of small hills (inselbergs) as habitat islands maintaining seed banks.
* To assess the potential of using the island biota for restoring the adjacent and surrounding land.
* To develop generalized models on the dynamics and restoration of the Nama-karoo ecosystem.
* To make recommendations to farmers and conservators on rangeland restoration (with respect to the potential of inselbergs as conservation islands) in the arid Nama-karoo.
* To make recommendations to prevent further degradation of the Nama-karoo.
* To train three managers, in Nama-karoo restoration, to M.Sc./Ph.D. level.
* To provide baseline data for potential long-term ecological research which future environmental workers may expand on for improvement of Nama Karoo management.
* To involve local communities in the research.
Expected Outcome

This project will assess the distribution and general patterns of diversity of insect and floral taxa on and around inselbergs/ small hills of various sizes and levels of degradation in southern Africa.
Management guidelines on the relationship between inselbergs and the surrounding land will be produced using biodiversity (insect and floral) maps of the inselberg terrain, measures of how land use affects biodiversity and details of plant-pollination systems. Models will be developed to predict the potential effects of climate change and management actions on the distribution of key species on inselbergs as well as the rehabilitation potential of certain species. Scientific results and popular accounts will be published so that the information is widely disseminated. The involvement of local communities is expected to improve local knowledge through debate and research techniques.
Key activities involve :
* Field studies on the botanical and entomological components of the Nama Karoo system will focus on the area around the Eastern Cape town of Middelburg, South Africa and in Damaraland, Namibia. Both regions comprise extensive plains interrupted by isolated hills, mountains and mountain ranges and both fall within the biogeographical area defined as the Nama Karoo region. Assessment of the value of these hills relative to the surrounding degraded Nama-karoo landscape will be accomplished by comparing the flora and the insect fauna of low-lying areas with that of inselbergs that have been grazed by domestic stock and/or native wild animals. The extent to which these small hills are habitat islands maintaining seed banks and insect mutualists will be determined. The potential of using the island biota for restoring the adjacent and surrounding land will be explored.
* Catalogues of historically and presently occurring species will be compiled as baseline data.
* Generalized models on the dynamics and restoration of the Karoo ecosystem will be developed.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

University of Stellenbosch
Address
Matieland Private Bag
7602 Stellenbosch
South Africa

Participants (4)

Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Namibia
Address
Private Bag
9000 Windhoek
UFZ - UMWELTFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM LEIPZIG-HALLE GMBH.
Germany
Address
Permoserstrasse 15
Leipzig
University of Natal
South Africa
Address
4014,Carbis Road
3200 Petermaritzburg
University of Nottingham
United Kingdom
Address
University Park
NG7 2RD Nottingham