An ecological study of the plant communities and degraded areas of the Highveld National Park, North West Province, South Africa
Daemane, Mahlomola Ernest
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The objectives of the study were to identify, classify, describe and map the plant communities in the proposed Highveld National Park, including the degraded Spitskop areas. Vegetation sampling was done by means of the Braun-Blanquet method and a total of 108 stratified random relevés were sampled. A numerical classification technique (TWINSPAN) was used and the result was refined by Braun-Blanquet procedures. The final results of the classification procedure were presented in the form of phytosociological tables and twelve plant communities were described. For indirect ordination, a Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) algorithm was applied to the data set to confirm the phytosociological association and to assess floristic relations between communities. For direct environmental gradient analysis the Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) was applied to the data using the CANOCO software program. The plant communities were combined into six management units based on similarities regarding vegetation composition, habitat, topography and soil characteristics. Characterization of land degradation was done by grouping erosion into different classes and different degrees of severity. Degraded areas in need of rehabilitation and restoration were identified and described. Recommendations were made with regard to rehabilitation and monitoring of all degraded areas in the HNP.