Long-term vegetation change in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa following 67 years of rest from grazing

  • Published source details Rahlao S.J., Hoffman M.T., Todd S.W. & McGrath K. (2008) Long-term vegetation change in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa following 67 years of rest from grazing. Journal of Arid Environments, 72, 808-819.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce number of livestock

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Reduce number of livestock

    A before-and-after trial in 1935–2004 in karoo habitat in Western Cape, South Africa (Rahlao et al. 2008) found that stopping livestock grazing led to increases in the cover of shrubs and trees, decreases in the cover of succulent plants, and no change in grass cover after 67 years. In three of four locations shrub cover was higher 67 years after grazing stopped (33–56%) than when the area was grazed (30–40%). Tree cover increased in two of four cases (before: 1–5%, after: 12–13%), while grass cover did not significantly change in four of four cases (before: 0–1%, after: 1–2%). However, in one of four cases the cover of succulent plants was lower 67 years after grazing was halted (38%) than before grazing stopped (60%). In 1935 all cattle were removed from the site. In 1935 vegetation cover was visually estimated in seven hundred and two 900 m2 quadrats and in 2004 in seventy 900 m2 quadrats distributed across four distinct areas of the site.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust