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Original Research

Plant communities and landscapes of the Parque Nacional de Zinave, Mozambique

Marc Stalmans, Mike Peel

Koedoe; Vol 52, No 1 (2010), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v52i1.703

Submitted: 14 April 2009
Published:  11 March 2010

Abstract

The Parque Nacional de Zinave covers 400 000 ha in Mozambique to the south of the Save River. Until recently, this park had been characterised by neglect and illegal hunting that caused the demise of most of its large wildlife. A recent initiative has been launched that aims at rehabilitating the park within the scope of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). A vegetation map was required as input to its management plan. The three primary objectives of the study were, firstly, to understand the environmental and biotic determinants of the vegetation, secondly, to identify and describe individual plant communities in terms of species composition and structure along the roads in the study area and, thirdly, to delineate landscapes in terms of their plant community make-up, environmental as well as biotic determinants and distribution. This is the third survey and description of the landscapes of the national parks located in the Mozambique part of the GLTP. A combination of feldwork and analysis of LANDSAT satellite imagery was used. A total of 75 sample plots were surveyed. A brief subjective visual assessment was undertaken for another 114 sample points. The accuracy of the landscape map was evaluated by means of 582 points assessed during an aerial game count. The ordination results clearly indicate the overriding importance of moisture availability in determining vegetation composition. Ten distinct plant communities were recognised. Different combinations of these plant communities can be grouped in six major landscapes, namely the Save River channel and river banks, Save riverine forest, Acacia nigrescens woodland landscape, mopane landscape, miombo landscape and sandveld landscape. The landscapes with their individual plant communities represent habitats that are highly suitable for the reintroduction of many game species that were lost during the latter part of the last century.

Conservation implication: No formal description and mapping of the vegetation existed for Zinave. The landscape map is a vital input for the management plan. The reintroduction of wildlife species that were exterminated during the civil war requires a selection of suitable habitats for the placement of the ‘sanctuary’ that will be used to ensure the initial security of the introduced animals. The landscape map of Zinave fits into the broader mapping of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area (GLTFCA) for conservation planning purposes.


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Author affiliations

Marc Stalmans, International Conservation Services CC, South Africa
Mike Peel, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa

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