Original Research

Vegetation of the eastern communal conservancies in Namibia: I. Phytosociological descriptions

Ben J. Strohbach
Koedoe | Vol 56, No 1 | a1116 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v56i1.1116 | © 2014 Ben J. Strohbach | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2012 | Published: 28 November 2014

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Ben J. Strohbach, School of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences, Polytechnic of Namibia, Namibia

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The establishment of communal conservancies aims to have the local communities share in the benefits especially of wildlife resources, in this way spearheading the conservation of the environment. The Desert Margins Programme in Namibia aimed to develop vegetation resource data for the Otjituuo, Okamatapati, Ozonahi, African Wild Dog, Otjinene, Epukiro, Otjombinde, Omuramba Ua Mbinda, Eiseb and Ondjou communal conservancies, in order to assist with natural resource planning. For this purpose, a phytosociological survey of this area, with 422 relevés, was conducted during 2004. The data was captured in Turboveg and forms part of the Namibian phytosociological database (GIVD AF-NA-001). The data was split into two, representing two major land forms, the ‘hardeveld and the ‘sandveld’, respectively. A classification was undertaken using the Modified two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) procedure. Further refinements, based on field observations and literature sources, were performed using Cocktail procedures. Thirteen vegetation associations were formally described in this article, of which two were subdivided into subassociations. These associations can broadly be grouped into broad-leaved savanna types typical of the central and northern Kalahari of Namibia and microphyll savannas found on the transitions to the Central Plateau. One association, the Burkeo africanaePterocarpetum angolensis, forms the southern fringe of the Zambesian Baikiaea Woodlands ecoregion of the World Wildlife Fund, whilst all the other associations fall within the Kalahari AcaciaBaikiaeaWoodlands ecoregion. The Combreto collini–Terminalietum sericeae is the most widespread association and dominates the landscape. Threats to the vegetation include overutilisation and regular fires, both of which could easily lead to desertification. This threat is aggravated by global climate change.

Conservation implications: This article described 13 plant associations of the central Kalahari in eastern Namibia, an area hitherto virtually unknown to science. The information presented in this article forms a baseline description, which can be used for future monitoring of the vegetation under communal land use.


Communal conservancies; Kalahari; land use; phytosociology; syntaxonomy; vegetation classification


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