Soil loss and run-off in Umfolozi Game Reserve and the implications for game reserve management.
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Two management blocks were set aside in Umfolozi Game Reserve (UGR) to compare different management approaches. In one, the non-cull block, a noninterventionist policy was followed and no large mammals were removed, while the other, the cull block was subjected to the same game removal treatment as the remainder of the reserve. The main objectives of this study were to determine the relationships between vegetation, soil surface variables and both soil loss and rainfall run-off, to derive predictive models for run-off and soil loss based on vegetation and soil surface variables, to determine the relationship between different levels of soil erosion and the production potential of soils, and to determine the relationship between different levels of soil erosion and herbaceous species diversity. Rainfall simulator trials and natural run-off plots were used to collect quantitative data on soil loss and run-off. Bivariate scattergrams showed that the relationship between soil surface and vegetation variables plotted against soil loss was curvilinear. "Susceptibility to erosion" showed the highest positive correlation, and "surface cover" the highest negative correlation with soil loss. The relationship between annual run-off and both the soil surface and vegetation variables was also curvilinear, with "soil capping" showing the highest positive and "litter cover" the highest negative correlation with run-off. Using multiple regression analysis it was found that "susceptibility to erosion" and predictors of annual soil loss. "surface cover" were the best "Soil capping" and "percentage contribution of run-off. forbs" were the best predictors of annual No clear relationship between either soil loss and stocking rate, or run-off and stocking rate was apparent in the two experimental blocks, and the differences in soil loss and run-off could not be explained by differences in stocking rate alone. There were however defects in the experimental design which invalidated the assumption that the stocking ~ate diffe~entia1 management blocks would inc~ease with time. between the two Because of the above deficiency, an a1te~native study a~ea on the weste~n bounda~y fence, which allowed fo~ pai~ed sampling sites on eithe~ side of the fence, was chosen. Ge~lach t~oughs we~e used to measu~e soil loss. The g~eatest va~iabi1ity in soil loss was explained by the position of the plots on the slope ~athe~ than whethe~ the plots we~e in UGR o~ in adjacent KwaZu1u. Simi1a~ly, diffe~ences in topog~aphy, ~athe~ than diffe~ences in 1anduse, exe~ted an ove~~iding effect on A-ho~izon depth, he~bage accumulation and g~ass species ~ichness. Conside~ing the ~esu1ts obtained, the opinion that a noninte~ventionist policy would lead to a decline in vegetation p~oductivity and to a 10ng-te~m ~eduction in species dive~sity appea~s to be unfounded. Finally, based on the data collected and on a ~eview of cu~~ent scientific 1ite~atu~e, changes to the Natal Pa~ks Boa~d soils policy and objectives a~e suggested, and the objectives a~e t~ans1ated into ope~ationa1 management goals.