oa Koedoe : African Protected Area Conservation and Science - A checklist of the plants of the forests and grasslands in the Weza district, southern KwaZulu-Natal and a review of their status in the red data list : checklist
Eastern mistbelt forests are naturally fragmented forests with grassland which occur from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. These were heavily logged by colonial settlers and continue to be harvested despite being protected. Consequently we documented a checklist of the plants of the forests and grasslands in the Weza district (3029DA WEZA), southern KwaZulu-Natal, including Ngeli Forest and nearby indigenous forest patches to highlight their biodiversity status and need for conservation. We also reviewed their status in the Red Data List. Of the 1554 records included in this summary of plant species for the Weza district, there were 6 lichens (0.4%), 46 bryophytes (3.0%), 58 pteridophytes (3.7%), 6 gymnosperms (0.4%) and the remaining 1424 species angiosperms (92.5%). Of the angiosperms, 27.3% were monocotyledons and 72.7% were dicotyledons. The most species-rich family was Asteraceae (239 species) followed by Fabaceae (115 species), Liliaceae (used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 89 species), Orchidaceae (89 species), Iridaceae (59 species), Poaceae(58 species), Asclepidaceae (again used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 57 species), Scrophulariaceae (42 species), Euphorbiaceae (32 species), Lamiaceae (32 species) and Rubiaceae (27 species). These 10 families each comprised more than 2% of the species in the list. Together they contributed 55% of the angiosperm species and 34.1% of the angiospermgenera. The biodiversity and conservation value of the study area are conserved pockets of eastern mistbelt forest, Drakensberg foothill moist grassland and mistbelt grassland. More than 4% of the species are under some degree of threat, as was evidenced by the number ofspecies regarded as endangered (5), vulnerable (18), near threatened (10), critically rare (1), rare (20) or declining (11) amongst the 1554 species covered in the list.
Conservation implications: In terms of taxa under some degree of threat, number of endemicand near endemic species the biodiversity and conservation value of the Ngele (3029DA WEZA) area is reinforced. This necessitates that the area is appropriately protected from invasive alien species, and uncontrolled and illegal use by the neighbouring communities.
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