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Vegetation Types

Information on Cape Town's vegetation comes from Summarized Descriptions of National Vegetation Types Occurring in the City of Cape Town by Patricia Holmes, Biodiversity Management Branch, July 2008

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The following descriptions reflect the latest national vegetation information available 1 and the vegetation units described below (in alphabetical order) form the basis for the latest terrestrial conservation planning done in the City. Vegetation types are landscape-scale units of biodiversity that comprise a range of different plant communities and habitats. For example, calcrete outcrops and wetlands occur within particular vegetation types and contribute to overall biodiversity in those vegetation types. In addition, where two different vegetation types meet, there may be an abrupt vegetation boundary, reflecting a sudden change in underlying geology and soils, or else a wide transition zone – often called an ecotone – where physical changes are more gradual and attributes of both vegetation types are mixed.

It is important to note that all fynbos and renosterveld vegetation types are fire-prone and require periodic fires to regenerate their full species complement and prevent plant extinctions. Fire-return intervals are generally prescribed at between 8-30 years for fynbos and 4-10 years for renosterveld, with factors such as rainfall and soil-type playing a role in growth rates and required burning schedules. In the Cape Town area the natural fire season (and the optimal season for biodiversity conservation) is summer (January to March). By contrast, fire is not essential (but may occur occasionally) in strandveld and forest vegetation type

Name Historical area (km2) % in Cape Town Current area in Cape Town (km2) Conserved or managed in Cape Town (km2) National Ecosystem Status
Atlantis Sand Fynbos 278 39.8% 166.0 4 CR
Boland Granite Fynbos 95 19.2% 61.0 3 VU
Cape Flats Dune Strandveld 401 100.0% 180.0 64 EN
Cape Flats Sand Fynbos 547 100.0% 77.0 5 CR
Cape Inland Saltpans 2 3.0% 2.0 2 LC
Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetlands 14 15.0% 6.0 5 CR
Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos 41 37.5% 22.0 18 VU
Elgin Shale Fynbos 2 0.9% 2.0 1 CR
Hangklip Sand Fynbos 34 41.8% 21.0 14 VU
Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos 107 11.7% 106.0 75 CR
Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos 48 100.0% 3.0 2 CR
Peninsula Granite Fynbos 92 100.0% 39.0 33 EN
Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos 215 100.0% 209.0 202 EN
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld 24 100.0% 3.0 0 CR
Southern Afrotemperate Forest 3 0.4% 3.0 3 LC
Swartland Alluvium Fynbos 17 3.7% 1.0 1 CR
Swartland Alluvium Renosterveld 0 0.0% 0.0 0 VU
Swartland Granite Renosterveld 58 6.2% 8.0 1 CR
Swartland Shale Renosterveld 464 9.4% 40.0 3 CR
Swartland Silcrete Renosterveld 10 10.1% 2.0 2 CR
Western Shaleband Vegetation 3 3.0% 3.0 2 LC

1 Based on: Rebelo et al. Fynbos Biome (2006). In: Mucina L & Rutherford M L (editors). The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19, SANBI, Pretoria; Driver A (in prep) Threatened ecosystems for listing under NEM:BA 2008, South African Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

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