Restoration of diversity and regeneration of woody species through area exclosure: the case of Maun International Airport in northern Botswana
Keywords:density, evenness, population structure, regeneration
Background and objectives: Deforested and degraded areas can be cheaply and conveniently restored through establishment of exclosures. An area exclosure excludes animals and humans from accessing an area to promote natural regeneration of plants and rehabilitate ecological condition of the area. The study was aimed at: (1) determining the diversity (species richness, diversity and evenness); (2) assessing the stand structure (densities); and (3) assessing regeneration status of woody species inside and outside exclosed Maun International Airport, northern Botswana.
Methods: Vegetation sampling was conducted from April to May 2018. A total of 48 and 37 quadrats of 20 × 20 m were laid down at 50 m intervals along transect lines inside and outside Maun International Airport, respectively. Identity, number of all live individuals and height of all woody species were recorded in all the quadrats. The diversity of all woody species was analysed by using the Shannon Diversity Index (H’) and regeneration status of each woody species was assessed using frequency distribution of height class.
Results: The diversity, evenness and species richness were significantly higher inside than outside Maun International Airport. Colophospermum mopane was the most abundant species both inside (75% of all woody species) and outside (96% of all woody species) Maun International Airport. More species showed more regeneration inside than outside Maun International Airport. The inside of Maun International Airport recorded more alien invasive woody species compared with the outside, owing to its original use as a residential area. The local communities might have introduced these species as ornamental trees.
Conclusion: This study, while limited in scale, contributes to understanding of the role of exclosures in enhancing woody species richness, diversity and evenness as well as facilitating regeneration of woody species. Degraded woodlands and other similar ecosystems could be cheaply and conveniently restored through establishment of exclosures, but more research and monitoring are required to fully understand the processes and impacts.
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