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National wetland vegetation database: classification and analysis of wetland vegetation types for conservation planning and monitoring
Expanded Title:In terms of conservation and management, South African Wetlands were neglected, for many years. Although wetlands are now recognised for their social, economic and ecological functions, many important Wetlands have been lost or severely degraded. Fortunately, the situation is improving as a result of supportive legislative spanning DWS, DEA, and DAFF. The value of wetlands was recognised by the establishment of the SANBI-Working for Wetlands Programme in collaboration with the Mondi Wetlands Project, the National Department of Water Affairs, and the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries. South Africa has declared 21 RAMSAR World Heritage Sites. Wetlands are susceptible to terrestrial encroachment and invasion by alien plants. Wetland vegetation is an important indicator of Wetland quality and integrity, but there is a lack of a national wetlands database, according to which impacts can be monitored. This study was proposed, because the existing data did not provide enough information for a detailed analysis of environmental conditions required by vegetation types (i.e. It was necessary to find indicator species for wetland conservation assessment and planning on a national scale). This project set out to gather data of wetland vegetation across the country in order to obtain a baseline description of wetland vegetation that could be used for long term monitoring and conservation. An initial database was built by collating vegetation data from existing literature sources. Then a sampling protocol was designed and supplementary data was added, following field visits throughout the country. A database of 5 583 wetland vegetation plots, spread across the entire South Africa is now available, with 244 plant communities recognised and classified. There are highly species-rich wetlands in the country, most of which are located in the mountainous, mist-belt region of KwaZulu-Natal, and the ‘renosterveld’ of the Western Cape. The landscape-level drivers of community composition in wetlands can be understood and these can assist in predicting what will happen when environmental changes take place. This should play an important role in conservation planning for freshwater biodiversity and in monitoring the effects of South Africa’s freshwater resource management.
Date Published:24/06/2015
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Ecosystem - Biodiversity protection
Document Keywords:Environment, Guidelines, Policy and regulation
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:1980/1/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0569-1
Project No:K5/1980
Document Size:12 765 KB
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