The Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation programme (CBRR) was introduced in 2007 to relieve grazing pressure on the Royal Botanic Garden, while optimizing the available range and maximizing biodiversity.
In the first year of the programme, five families in the local pastoral community were involved. In 2012, we now have 38 families participating.
When we started our work, we needed to be able to restore plant cover, conduct vegetation surveys and make biomass estimates at the Garden site, without animals continuing to graze there.
Faced with local opposition, we came up with a plan to supply replacement forage to the livestock owners who had habitually grazed the RBG site, in return for them withdrawing their flocks.
The CBRR initiative was well received. Livestock owners who once grazed the site down to bare earth are now policing themselves and others to protect the benefits they are reaping from the CBRR and the rapidly reviving ecosystem
Controlled grazing studies on RBG land are giving our range scientist the opportunity to conduct studies on palatability and browsing behaviour, to refine our understanding of the impact of grazing on specific plant species.
While it may at first seem counterintuitive to allow grazing on land that is to be conserved, there is plentiful evidence that historically grazed habitats adapt and thrive under managed grazing.
Ultimately, the CBRR’s projects will be tailored to a variety of habitat types, and habitat-specific grazing protocols will be published for the region, that maximize both the biodiversity of a given range and the productivity of the animals grazing on it.
The essential points of the CBRR programme are as follows:
Monitor species diversity and vegetation change over time
Assist the pastoral community to improve productivity through better management
Assess the carrying capacity of the site and the long-term sustainability profile
Develop a grazing regime and supplemental forage to meet the sustainability profile