oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - The influence of tree thinning on the vegetative growth and browse production of

Volume 31, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN : 2410-7220
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8200



The vegetative growth and browse production dynamics of <i>Colophospermum mopane&lt;/i&gt; trees were studied over a period of three years on six plots where the trees were thinned to the approximate equivalents of 75, 50, 35, 20, and 10% of tree density of the control plot (2711 trees/ha). Thinning reduced inter-tree competition which resulted in significant increases in the vegetative growth of the remaining trees. As the intensity of thinning increases, the magnitude of these increases also increases. On a structural basis, vegetative growth within the trees was not uniform and the trees showed increases in canopy cover rather than increases in tree height. Although the vegetative growth per tree was higher in the low tree density plots, the larger number of trees in the high tree density plots ensured that the total seasonal leaf dry mass increase exceeded that of the low tree density plots. September to December are the critical months as far as vegetative growth is concerned. Tree thinning reduced the available browse at peak biomass, but trees from the low tree density plots displayed a better distribution of browse, having leaves in comparatively younger phenological states over an extended period. Marked differences in the nutritional composition and water content of <i>C. mopane&lt;/i&gt; leaves existed in different phenological states.

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