Climate- and Human-Induced Woody Vegetation Changes in Botswana and Their Implications for Human Adaptation

Ringrose, S.; Chipanshi, A. C.; Matheson, W.; Chanda, R.; Motoma, L.; Magole, I.; Jellema, A.
July 2002
Environmental Management;Jul2002, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p98
Academic Journal
For purposes of suggesting adaptive and policy options regarding the sustained use of forestry resources in Botswana, an analysis of the whole countrywide satellite data (showing the mean present distribution of vegetation in terms of species abundance and over all density) and the projection of vegetation cover changes using a simulation approach under different climatic scenarios were undertaken. The analysis revealed that changes in vegetation cover types due to human and natural causes have taken place since the first vegetation map was produced in 1971. In the southwest, the changes appear to be more towards an increasing prevalence of thorn trees; in the eastern part of the country where widespread bush encroachment is taking place, the higher population density suggests more human induced (agrarian-degradation) effects, while in the sparsely settled central Kalahari region, changes from tree savanna to shrubs may be indicative of the possible influence of climate with the associated effects of fires and local adaptations. Projection of future vegetation changes to about 2050 indicates degeneration of the major vegetation types due to the expected drying. Based on the projected changes in vegetation, current adaptive and policy arrangements are not adequate and as such a shift from the traditional adaptive approaches to community-based types is suggested. Defining forestry management units and adopting different management plans for the main vegetation stands that are found in Botswana are the major policy options.


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