People, environment and biodiversity

Linear structures in the Karoo, South Africa, and their impacts on biota

Linear structures include fences, roads, railways, canalised water ways and power lines, all man-made. Fencing as a way of managing livestock began in the late 1800s, and by the early twentieth century was almost fully implemented throughout the Karoo sensu lato. The advent of these fences, and now in many instances, ‘game proof’ (∼2 m high) […]

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Links between Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation

Shackleton, C, Shackleton, S, Gambiza, J, Nel, E, Rowntree, K and Urquhart, P (2008), Links between Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Situation analysis for arid and semi-arid lands in southern Africa, , Rhodes University, for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Reduction Research Programme: DFID, NERC, ESRC. Aim and objectives This report presents the findings of a […]

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Long-term changes in land use, land cover and vegetation in the Karoo drylands of South Africa

We used several large data sets at a range of temporal and spatial scales to document the land-use/land-cover change (LULCC) dynamics of the semi-arid Succulent Karoo and Nama-Karoo biomes of South Africa. More than 95% of the Karoo is comprised of land classified as Natural, which has been relatively stable since 1990. Over the last […]

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Long-term impacts of livestock grazing and browsing in the Succulent Karoo

This study used a fence-line contrast approach to investigate the long-term impact of high grazing pressure on the vegetation at a site in Namaqualand, South Africa. Forty pairs of permanently marked plots were surveyed in 1996, 2006 and 2016. The main objective was to investigate changes in the vegetation structure and species composition between the […]

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Long-term vegetation change (>20 years) in the plains habitat on the Goegap Nature Reserve, Succulent Karoo, South Africa

Because vegetation change in arid ecosystems is slow, long-term data are essential to gain an understanding of how the vegetation responds to short-term, inter-annual variation in rainfall; long-term cyclic rainfall patterns; and grazing pressure. The point intercept method was conducted annually over a period of more than 20 years at five transects in the plains […]

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Multi-functional landscapes in semi arid environments

O’Farrell, P, Reyers, B, Le Maitre, D, Milton, S, Ego, B, Maherry, A, Colvin, C, Atkinson, D, De Lange, W, Blignaut, J and Cowling, R (2010), “Multi-functional landscapes in semi arid environments: Implications for biodiversity and ecosystem services”, Landscape Ecology, vol. 25, no. 8, 1231-1246. Can be purchased at:, or contact   Abstract […]

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Municipal commonage and ecological knowledge in the Nama Karoo

Atkinson, D (2007), “Municipal commonage and ecological knowledge in the Nama Karoo”, Development Southern Africa, vol. 24, no. 5, December 2007.   Abstract This paper examines the problem of managing municipal commonage land in the Nama Karoo, which is increasingly being used by black or coloured emergent farmers. Many of these live in the towns […]

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Oviston Nature Reserve: Stakeholder Analysis Report

Atkinson, D (2008b), Oviston Nature Reserve: Stakeholder Analysis Report, Unpublished report for Eastern Cape Department of Environmental Affairs, Karoo Institute, Philippolis. Purpose and methodology of the study The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 promotes mechanisms in place to engage local communities in protected areas. It further states that park plans must be compiled in consultation […]

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Perceptions of climate change and barriers to adaptation amongst commonage and commercial livestock farmers in the semi-arid Eastern Cape Karoo

Muller, C and Shackleton, SE (2013), Perceptions of climate change and barriers to adaptation amongst commonage and commercial livestock farmers in the semi-arid Eastern Cape Karoo, African Journal of Range & Forage Science. Click here for online version ( you may need to pay for this item), or contact Sheona Shackleton at Abstract […]

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Population change in the Karoo

In common with arid and semi-arid areas worldwide, South Africa’s Karoo has experienced significant population shifts over the last 100 years. These have been caused by a range of considerations related to advances in farming technology and changing labour needs, transport improvements, environmental considerations and contextual economic variables. This paper pays attention to how, in […]

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