Theme 1: Rangeland/Grassland Ecology--Oral Sessions

Description

Land degradation is a multifaceted problem that affects the agricultural productivity of land due to a loss of vegetation cover and can often be ascribed to bush encroachment in savanna and grassland rangelands. Bush encroachment entails the increase in abundance and density of indigenous and alien woody vegetation (i.e. shrub thickening), which has a negative impact on the tree-grass ratio, biodiversity, as well as on a range of ecosystem services that affect the well-being of land users, often causing an increase in poverty and the introduction of non-sustainable land management practices, especially in arid- and semi-arid regions mostly affected by climate change. In response, the North-West University, in collaboration with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) programme of the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and consultants, developed the Bush Expert Information Management System (BEIMS) that will help land users to make scientifically sound decisions regarding the restoration/rehabilitation and sustainable management of degraded land. The core components of the BEIMS are the EcoRestore Decision Support System (DSS) that contains guidelines for restoration after bush control and the Bushmon database that contains information (including spatial location) of bush encroachment restoration research projects. The BEIMS (abbreviated as Bush Expert) is a cloud-based, easily accessible online system which can also be linked to a standalone Global Information System via a spatial database link. Stemming from the BEIMS, the EcoRestore DSS can provide scientifically assessed information on projects where restoration technologies have been applied – including aerial photography that track the before and after successes of restoration/rehabilitation processes. To follow is a discussion of the results of a number of restoration applications derived with the aid of BEIMS, with due consideration for the current functionality and accessibility of the system.

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Ecorestore: Decision Support System to Restore the Productivity of Degraded Rangelands in Southern Africa

Land degradation is a multifaceted problem that affects the agricultural productivity of land due to a loss of vegetation cover and can often be ascribed to bush encroachment in savanna and grassland rangelands. Bush encroachment entails the increase in abundance and density of indigenous and alien woody vegetation (i.e. shrub thickening), which has a negative impact on the tree-grass ratio, biodiversity, as well as on a range of ecosystem services that affect the well-being of land users, often causing an increase in poverty and the introduction of non-sustainable land management practices, especially in arid- and semi-arid regions mostly affected by climate change. In response, the North-West University, in collaboration with the Natural Resource Management (NRM) programme of the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and consultants, developed the Bush Expert Information Management System (BEIMS) that will help land users to make scientifically sound decisions regarding the restoration/rehabilitation and sustainable management of degraded land. The core components of the BEIMS are the EcoRestore Decision Support System (DSS) that contains guidelines for restoration after bush control and the Bushmon database that contains information (including spatial location) of bush encroachment restoration research projects. The BEIMS (abbreviated as Bush Expert) is a cloud-based, easily accessible online system which can also be linked to a standalone Global Information System via a spatial database link. Stemming from the BEIMS, the EcoRestore DSS can provide scientifically assessed information on projects where restoration technologies have been applied – including aerial photography that track the before and after successes of restoration/rehabilitation processes. To follow is a discussion of the results of a number of restoration applications derived with the aid of BEIMS, with due consideration for the current functionality and accessibility of the system.