An understanding of the response of indicators of rangeland degradation following rehabilitation is essential to the successful implementation of the Payment for Environmental Services initiative that is currently being developed in the communal rangelands of the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa. We evaluated the following four potential indicators of rangeland degradation: Range condition, basal cover, species diversity, and soil fertility. The indicators were measured in degraded and rehabilitated sites at Okhombe in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Two transects were established at each site for basal cover and species composition. Soil samples were collected from each site and their elements analysed. The results revealed that differences between the rehabilitated and degraded sites can be quantified using indicators of range condition, basal cover, and species diversity. There were highly significant differences in certain soil properties (that is, P 11.36 mg/kg, K 0.47 cmol/kg, pH 4.20, OC 6.33% and N 0.70%) after rehabilitation. Based on these results, we argue that these indicators have the potential to be used in monitoring and certifying the delivery of watershed services at a local level in this communal rangeland.
Key words: Decreaser and increaser, species diversity, soil fertility, rangeland condition.
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