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Original Research

The vegetation of the farms Ingleside and Welgedacht of the Mountain Zebra National Park, Eastern Cape

L.R. Brown, H. Bezuidenhout

Koedoe; Vol 48, No 2 (2005), 23-42. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v48i2.92

Submitted: 18 December 2005
Published:  18 December 2005

Abstract

South Africa is well known for its semi-arid lowland areas that have a distinct flora and species composition. Because ecosystems react differently to different management practices, it is important that a description and classification of the vegetation of an area be done. As part of a vegetation survey programme for the newly acquired farms incorporated into the Mountain Zebra National Park, the vegetation of the Ingleside and Welgedacht sections were surveyed following the Braun-Blanquet approach. From a TWINSPAN classification, refined by Braun-Blanquet procedures, 10 shrub and grassland plant communities, which can be grouped into seven major groups, were identified. A classification and description of these communities, as well as a vegetation map are presented. The diagnostic species as well as the prominent and less conspicuous species of the tree, shrub, herb and grass strata are outlined. The area generally comprises lowland communities and higher-lying communities. The lower-lying communities consist mainly of two communities and comprise the largest proportion of the area in hectares. In contrast, the higher-lying communities are more diverse with specific habitats. Using the Ecological Index Method the veld condition and grazing capacity were calculated for each community and the total study area. Large sections of the lowland areas are overgrazed due to previous farming grazing practices while the higher-lying areas that were less accessible to the animals are in a slightly better condition. Overall this has resulted in the area generally being degraded within a high grazing capacity of 30.1 ha/LSU.

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Author affiliations

L.R. Brown, UNISA, South Africa
H. Bezuidenhout, Conservation Services, South Africa

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ISSN: 0075-6458 (print) | ISSN: 2071-0771 (online)

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