The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.
The conservation story in Africa during the 1960s
Although soil and forest conservation measures in Africa were reflected in the early legislation of some countries, it was first with the nature reserve and national park concept of the late 1890s and early 1900s that entire habitats with their vegetation and animals became protected. Yet little attention was paid to interactions between various components of the ecosystem, particularly between plants and animals. In the 1940s Belgian and French ecologists published three pioneering works on the function of African ecosystems, but they were apparently not very much read in English-speaking countries. However, in the 1950s field investigations in the Congo (Zaire) and Eastern Africa by American and European workers threw more light upon the important role played by larger wild mammals in the ecology and economy of African grasslands. At the same time the pressure on these mammals and their habitats was increasing rapidly owing to human population growth and land hunger. Simultaneously the African countries emerged as politically independent states. It became clear to IUCN that urgent conservation measures, based on ecological facts, must be undertaken in cooperation with the new African states. This led to the so-called African Special Project, of which one phase was the 1961 Arusha Conference on [']Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Modern African States 039;. This conference became a turning point in the conservation history of Africa, and the 1960s saw a remarkable progress in conservation that culminated in the 1968 African Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, signed by the African Heads of State in 1969. However, without being fully implemented the African Convention cannot create miracles. The conservation situation in Africa is continuously aggravated due to the using up of the renewable natural resources 039; capital. This is in turn caused by the increase of human and livestock populations, which in most countries no longer correspond to the carrying capacity of the environment.
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