ILTER: 1st Open Science Meeting Skukuza 2016

ILTER Open Science Meeting | Onsite Field Trips

On Wednesday, 12 October 2016, there will be five field trips running concurrently between 07h00 - 11h00. Please take note of their descriptions below in order to get an understanding of what to expect. Please note that space on these field trips is limited to only 18 people per field trip and seats will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Date: Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Depart: 07h00 | Skukuza Conference Centre

Return: 11h00 | Skukuza Conference Centre

Cost: R 265.00 per person

The Skukuza Flux Tower 

The Skukuza flux tower is the longest running, active eddy co-variance system in Africa. Established in 2000, this site has provided measurements of atmospheric fluxes of CO2 and water vapour for 15 years, and is one of only a handful of sites where these earth system science variables have been quantified for an African savanna ecosystem. Data from the site has provided valuable insights into the carbon dynamics of African savannas, as well as the strong control of water availability on the functioning of these systems. Currently, the tower is providing unique insights into the effect of megaherbivores (specifically elephants) on carbon cycling.

Experimental Burn Plots 

The experimental burn plots (EBPs) of the Kruger National Park are one of the oldest, active burning trials in the world. Initiated in the 1950’s, at four sites of contrasting rainfall and soil type, this long-term experiment has produced numerous results on the impacts of both fire and herbivory on the vegetation of the park. The duration of data from these plots also now provides an opportunity to assess the impacts of global climate change savannas. This trip will visit one of the four EBP site in Kruger (the Skukuza burn plots) to see differences created by a range of fire seasons and frequencies

The Nkuhlu Exclosure 

The Nkuhlu and Letaba Exclosures are large herbivore exclosures that have excluded all large herbivores (by means of a full fence), as well as just elephant and giraffe (by means of partial fence) since 2002. Resulting changes to the vegetation are revealing the key role that large herbivores can play in determining the structure and composition of savanna vegetation. This trip will explore the control and exclosure areas of the Nkuhlu Exclosure, situated in the Sabie River valley. 

The Rivers of Kruger National Park 

The Kruger National Park (KN) contains some of the largest stretches of rivers within protected areas in the world. The 5 perennial rivers that flow through KNP are still relatively pristine, but all impacted by developments upstream to some degree. This trip will visit a number of sites on the Sabie River, considered the most pristine of the park’s perennial rivers. Information on water management issues will be provided by the Rivers Manager for KNP. 

Rural Rangelands 

Rural villages and their associated communal rangelands cover much of the area surrounding the Kruger National Park, as is the case for most protected areas in the developing world. These areas form a critical buffer between Kruger NP and the more developed areas further away, and provide natural resources that are critical for the livelihoods of most of the people living there. For the past four decades, a rural area to the west of Kruger NP has been the focus of a large amount of research on the importance of these natural resources, as well as the social factors that drive demand for them. This fieldtrip will take delegates outside of the national park and through communal rangelands, to a focal village within this area.