Effects of livestock exclusion on tree regeneration in church forests of Ethiopia

A. Wassie Eshete, F.J. Sterck, D. Teketay, F. Bongers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Ethiopia, forests near churches, are the last remnant forest patches. These forests are currently under threat, probably due to diminishing areas of the forest itself and repeated grazing for extended periods by cattle. We assessed the effect of livestock exclusion on the regeneration of four indigenous tree species in two church forests. The four species have a high abundance and socioeconomic value, but limited regeneration in the two forests. We investigated the effect of grazing and trampling on seed germination, seedling survival, and seedling growth. Livestock grazing had a strong negative effect on germination, seedling growth and mortality. In fenced plots, more seeds germinated, seedling survival was higher and seedlings grew faster. Seed germination was higher inside the forest than in the adjacent open area for all species. Seedling survival was not different between forest interior and open fields, except for unfenced plots in the open fields where survival was lower because of the higher grazing pressure. In unfenced plots, no seedlings survived until the end of the year, indicating that grazers destroyed the seedling bank in and around the forest. The significant interaction between fencing and species on seed germination and seedling survival revealed that the magnitude of damage due to grazing can vary with species. We conclude that for effective indigenous tree species regeneration in these church forests, the control of livestock pressure is necessary. Seeds dispersed outside the forest will not have a chance to establish seedlings, grow and colonize the surroundings. Livestock grazing thus has a paramount impact on the long-term sustainability of church forests and their role in restoring the degraded surroundings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-772
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume257
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • mexican cloud forest
  • tropical dry forest
  • ekebergia-capensis
  • statistics notes
  • costa-rica
  • survival
  • restoration
  • vegetation
  • seedlings
  • ecosystem

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