Bi Forest


Forests tend to occur in patches, few of which cover areas greater than 1km², with areas greater than this only common along the Garden Route and Lowveld Escarpment. Even added together, forests cover less than 0.25% of southern Africa’s surface area, making this the smallest biome on the subcontinent.
Forests rarely burn, mainly due to the high humidity – under extremely hot and dry (berg wind) conditions fires may occur and destroy the forest structure.
The canopy cover of forests is continuous, comprising mostly evergreen trees, and beneath it the vegetation is multi-layered. Herbaceous plants, particularly ferns, are only common in the montane forests, whereas lianas and epiphytes are common throughout. The ground layer is almost absent due to the dense shade. On the edges of the patches are distinctive communities, the so-called fringe and ecotonal communities, which are able to tolerate fire.
Lekker Links
South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Biomes.
Fynbos; Grasslands; Nama-Karoo; Savannas; Succulent Karoo.
Wetlands; Coastal & marine.
Some 649 woody and 636 herbaceous plant species are recorded from forests. However, forests are not floristically uniform. Three separate forest types are recognized in this account. Specialized forests that occur in small areas and very sporadically – such as mangrove, swamp and fringe forests are not separated from these three types.
Partly because of their rarity, their grandeur and their setting, forests are an important tourist attraction in South Africa. They have been exploited in the past for valuable timber, including Black Stinkwood Ocotea bullata and Outeniqua Yellowwood Podocarpus falcatus. Some forests were removed for the establishment of exotic plantations. A major plant invader of forests is Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon.
Forest conservation has two facets: the maintenance of components and critical processes in the forests – which requires the conservation of the large mammals and birds which disperse seeds and maintain gap processes which allow succession within the forests – and the maintenance of gene flow – which requires allowing seed dispensers and pollinators to move along the corridors between forest patches. Thus the proclamation of isolated stands of forests as reserves may be insufficient for their conservation. Sustainable use of forests may require that their fauna be effectively conserved.
(Source: ‘The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland’, South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism)


Latest posts

  • Johnny Clegg

    Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg was born June 7, 1953 in Rochdale near Manchester in England. Already in his youth, Johnny Clegg, a white, English-speaking person with what he called a ‘secular Jewish’ upbringing in Britain, Israel, Zimbabwe and South Africa, became interested in Zulu street music and took part in traditional Zulu dance competitions. As a […]

    Read more

  • Wessels

    Away fro city life… I met a European couple (the guy from the Netherlands and the girl from UK) in Australia a couple of years ago. They are now planning to come visit South Africa later this year and I thought it may be useful for European travellers to hear a South African’s opinion of […]

    Read more

  • how many months income do you need for a mortgage in south africa

    It is a common misconception that you need a large deposit to get a mortgage in South Africa. You can actually get a mortgage with a deposit of as little as 3% of the purchase price. However, the size of your deposit will affect the interest rate you are offered and the amount you will […]

    Read more