Title: Assessing the effects of landscape features and grazing on vegetation condition in grazing lands of Mokhotlong District, Lesotho

Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Isabel C Barrio
landscape features, grazing density, plant species cover, species richness, plant diversity, plant height, Lesotho


Grazing is an important factor determining the patterns of vegetation in mountainous rangeland ecosystems. However, other factors such as topography can also influence the rangeland in its ability to produce forage for grazing animals. This study aims to estimate the effects of landscape features (elevation, aspect) and grazing (presence or absence) on plant species richness, percent cover and plant height. The effects of these factors on vegetation condition were analysed and quantified to be used as a premise for developing sustainable grazing management plans. This study was conducted at the Phapong grazing area in the district of Mokhotlong and encompasses a total land mass of 1048 ha in the mountainous agro-ecological zone of the kingdom of Lesotho. The percent cover of each plant species was visually estimated based on the proportion of the quadrat occupied. The presence or absence of sheep and/or goat pellets within each quadrat was also recorded. The Disc Pasture Meter (DPM) was used to measure compressed grass height. The findings revealed that plants were taller in south-facing slopes than in north-facing slopes. Plant species richness and diversity were lower at areas of high elevation. The interaction between aspect and elevation had no significant effect on plant height, species richness, and plant diversity. The presence of low grazing density had no significant effect on the percent cover of plant species of different palatability in the study site.


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