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Biosphere reserves in savanna regions: building the research-conservation connection

by LAMOTTE, M; HADLEY, M; UNESCO, París (Francia); PNUMA, Nairobi (Kenia); 1. International Biosphere Reserve Congress Minsk, Byelorussia (URSS) 26 Set - 2 Oct 1983.
Series: Natural Resources Research - UNESCO/PNUMA.Publisher: URSS 1984Description: v.1 p.44-58.Subject(s): SABANAS | RESERVA DE LA BIOSFERA | SAVANNAS | SAVANE In: Summary: Although the term "savanna" is of limited value in a precise classificatory sense, the term is widely used to identify an array of wooded grasslands and grassy woodlands that lie between the equatorial rainforest and the deserts and semi-deserts of the tropical regions. There is great variation in the physiognomy of savannas and in their water, fire and soil nutrient status. But is seems possible to recognize a small number of functional groupings of savanna types with a small number of functional groupings of savanna types with characteristic differences in energy flow and ecosystem dynamics. The three major types are moist savannas, dry savannas, and cold-season savannas. Two major land use problems in areas unsuitable for agriculture are poor quality forage for livestock and (in Africa) presence of tsetse flies. Relatively low densities of human populations and the presence of spectacular numbersof large herbivores help explain the well-developed systems of national parks in certain savanna regions. Of the 11 biosphere reserves established in savanna zones, 10 are in Africa, only one in South America, and none in the Australasian region. All but one reserve is over 100,00 ha in area. Conservation rather than research has been the main stimulus for their designation as biosphere reserves. Among the proposals for future action are: extension of the geographical coverage of biosphere reserves in savanna regions, and development among groups of research sites of comparative studies designed to test working hyptheres on the functioning of these ecosystems, their stability in time and the possibilities for their improved use by man.
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Although the term "savanna" is of limited value in a precise classificatory sense, the term is widely used to identify an array of wooded grasslands and grassy woodlands that lie between the equatorial rainforest and the deserts and semi-deserts of the tropical regions. There is great variation in the physiognomy of savannas and in their water, fire and soil nutrient status. But is seems possible to recognize a small number of functional groupings of savanna types with a small number of functional groupings of savanna types with characteristic differences in energy flow and ecosystem dynamics. The three major types are moist savannas, dry savannas, and cold-season savannas. Two major land use problems in areas unsuitable for agriculture are poor quality forage for livestock and (in Africa) presence of tsetse flies. Relatively low densities of human populations and the presence of spectacular numbersof large herbivores help explain the well-developed systems of national parks in certain savanna regions. Of the 11 biosphere reserves established in savanna zones, 10 are in Africa, only one in South America, and none in the Australasian region. All but one reserve is over 100,00 ha in area. Conservation rather than research has been the main stimulus for their designation as biosphere reserves. Among the proposals for future action are: extension of the geographical coverage of biosphere reserves in savanna regions, and development among groups of research sites of comparative studies designed to test working hyptheres on the functioning of these ecosystems, their stability in time and the possibilities for their improved use by man.

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