Use of Mopane Woodland Resources and Associated Woodland Management Challenges in Rural Areas of South Africa

Rudzani Albert Makhado, Martin J Potgieter, Dirk C.J Wessels, Amani T Saidi, Kgabo L Masehela

Abstract


Mopane woodland resources in South Africa are essential to the wellbeing of rural communities living near them. They provide the primary source of poles used for construction of traditional structures as well as fuel wood. In mopane woodland areas, 80% of rural people use fuel wood as the primary source of energy for cooking and heating. Villagers prefer to use mopane (Colophospermum mopane (J. Kirk ex Benth.) J. Léonard) tree for fuel wood and construction of traditional structures; because it has high energy content, emits less smoke when it is dry, and it is durable. A family of about 7 people uses a mean of 7.8 kilograms for cooking per day per meal, resulting in about 2.8 metric tons consumed per year per household. A mean volume of 1.4  m3  is used when constructing a traditional hut, which means that a family with three or four houses would use 4.1 m3 - 5.4  m3 in constructing them. Mopane worms harvested from mopane woodland are consumed for their nutritional value and also traded to generate income. Despite the value of mopane woodland resources to rural livelihoods, unsustainable resource use and irresponsible management resulted in dwindling woodland resources.


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