|dc.description.abstract||The proposed Heritage Park will link Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve with a corridor of approximately 170 000 ha, to form a conservation area of roughly 250 000 ha.
This proposed Heritage Park will contribute to reaching the conservation target set for the
Savanna biome. Developing a conservation area for eco-tourism will lead to job creation and it
will increase the livelihoods of the people from the local communities. The escalating tourism
demand at Pilanesberg and Madikwe, unique features, such as the Molatedi Dam, Marico River
and Dwarsberg Mountains and the archaeological importance of the area further provides a
strong motivation for the development of the proposed Heritage Park.
For effective planning, development and management of the proposed Heritage Park, it is
essential to have a sound knowledge base of the ecosystems present and its biota. Several
sub-research projects have been planned, including a soil and vegetation survey (of which the
current study forms a part), a land and biodiversity audit, a socio-economic impact assessment,
a game carrying capacity survey, spatial planning, heritage status and development and
traditional knowledge surveys. No vegetation studies have previously been carried out in the
central part of the corridor area, which covers a surface area of more than 90 000 ha. The aims
of this study were to classify and describe the vegetation of the Central Corridor Area (CCA), to
map plant communities, to identify and describe broad vegetation units and to integrate this
study with previous studies carried out in other parts of the proposed Heritage Park.
Stratified, random sampling was done and 222 relevés were completed in the CCA. A total of 20
plant communities and 17 sub-communities were identified and described in four land types in
the CCA, using the Braun-Blanquet approach. Data was processed using the TURBOVEG
database and a visual editor for phytosociological tables, MEGATAB. The correlations between
environmental variables and plant communities were identified with the use of Correspondence
Analysis (CA) ordinations and Principal Component Analyses (PCA) ordinations in CANOCO.
The plant communities and also the areas with serious bush thickening and old cultivated fields
were mapped. The plant communities from different land types were combined into three
vegetation units and four vegetation sub-units, which were described in terms of species
composition and environmental variables and management recommendations were given. The
first vegetation unit (the Acacia robusta – Acacia tortilis Vegetation Unit) was found on deep soil,
on plains. The second vegetation unit (the Mundulea sericea – Vitex zeyheri Vegetation Unit)
was also found on plains, but on shallow sandy soil. The third vegetation unit (the Grewia
flavescens – Panicum maximum Vegetation Unit) was found on shallow, sandy and rocky soil
on mountains. The vegetation classification of the CCA was also compared with the vegetation
studies carried out in the Expansion Areas of Madikwe and Pilanesberg.||