Original Research

Plant communities, wetlands and landscapes of the Parque Nacional de Banhine, Moçambique

M. Stalmans, M. Wishart
Koedoe | Vol 48, No 2 | a99 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v48i2.99 | © 2005 M. Stalmans, M. Wishart | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 December 2005 | Published: 18 December 2005

About the author(s)

M. Stalmans, International Conservation Services, South Africa
M. Wishart, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Abstract

The Parque Nacional de Banhine (Banhine National Park) was proclaimed during 1972. It covers 600 000 ha in Moçambique to the east of the Limpopo River. Until recently, this park, originally and popularly known as the ‘Serengeti of Moçambique’, was characterised by neglect and illegal hunting that caused the demise of most of its large wildlife. New initiatives aimed at rehabilitating the park have been launched within the scope of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. A vegetation map was required as input to its management plan. The major objectives of the study were firstly to understand the environmental determinants of the vegetation, secondly to identify and describe individual plant communities in terms of species composition and structure and thirdly to delineate landscapes in terms of their plant community and wetland make-up, environmental determinants and distribution. A combination of fieldwork and analysis of LANDSAT satellite imagery was used. A total of 115 sample plots were surveyed. Another 222 sample points were briefly assessed from the air to establish the extent of the different landscapes. The ordination results clearly indicate the overriding importance of moisture availability in determining vegetation composition in the Parque Nacional de Banhine. Eleven distinct plant communities were recognised. They are described in terms of their structure, composition and distribution. These plant communities have strong affinities to a number of communities found in the Limpopo National Park to the west. The sandveld community is relatively the most species-rich of all communities. Different combinations of these plant communities can be grouped in five major landscapes, namely the Wetland, Grassland, Mopane, Sandveld and Androstachys landscape. These different landscapes hold six different wetland types as defined by the RAMSAR classification. The landscapes with their individual plant communities and wetland types represent a unique combination of habitats that have great intrinsic conservation value. These habitats are key to the long-term maintenance and survival of a diverse avifauna, including the original ostrich population, as well as wattled cranes.

Keywords

Parque Nacional de Banhine; Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park; TFCA; landscape; wetland.

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