Landscape Central ecology

The vegetation of Landscape Central falls within the Core Cape Subregion (previously termed the Cape Floristic Region), which is the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. It is internationally renowned for its especially rich flora containing an estimated 9 383 species of vascular plants of which almost 69% are endemic (restricted to the region). This makes it one of the richest regions in the world in terms of botanical diversity, apart from some Neotropical areas.

The great diversity of plants is attributed to the change in complement of species along environmental gradients and the variation in species in the same habitat type from one geographical location to another. Winter rains along with mist-precipitation from the southeaster clouds in the summer provide the habitat for a number of rare protea and Mimetes species.

The Boland Complex

The Boland Complex supports 19 vegetation types representing fynbos, renosterveld, forest and seashore vegetation. The remarkable floral diversity of this landscape is evident from the distribution patterns of a sample of 1 936 plant taxa from plant families and genera that are characteristic of the Cape flora such as Proteaceae, Ericaceae, Restionaceae and Bruniaceae

The highest percentage occurrence of these taxa per quarter degree square (20% to 26%) is found in the Boland Complex, which provides habitat of high importance for many amphibian species, nine of which are species of conservation concern. The complex supports many reptile species. Voëlvlei Nature Reserve and certain stewardship sites support the critically endangered geometric tortoise (Psammobates geometricus), which is restricted to the alluvium fynbos and shale renosterveld vegetation types in the Voëlvlei Nature Reserve.

Eight indigenous fish species occur in the complex, most of which have limited distribution ranges, and 85 terrestrial mammal species, including four locally extinct and eight introduced mammal species, have been recorded in the Boland Mountain Complex. At least 26 bird species of conservation concern are found in the Boland Complex, including the African penguin and other seabirds, in addition to the more terrestrial-based species.

The Hexriver Complex

The Hexriver Complex comprises five protected areas: the Bokkeriviere, Ben-Etive, Fonteintjiesberg, Wittebrug and Witzenberg nature reserves. The area comprises approximately 19 301ha of mostly pristine mountainous terrain. Nine distinct vegetation types occur in this area, two of which are of conservation concern as they support rare, threatened and endemic animal and plant species. Wetlands, seeps and rivers are important for fish and freshwater ecosystem conservation. This mountainous area has limited accessibility, with only a few hiking trails.

The Hexriver Complex supports 10 vegetation types representing fynbos and renosterveld and there are at least 15 plant species of conservation concern. A diversity of colophon beetle species occur in the Hexriver Complex. This is indicative of the capacity of the area to provide refuge to biodiversity during periods of climate change. There are five rare butterfly species and three dragonfly species of conservation concern. The Complex also supports four indigenous fish species, five frog species, 105 bird species and 83 mammal species, five of which have been identified for priority actions, namely grey rhebuck, leopard, Cape clawless otter, laminate vlei rat and spectacled dormouse.

Vegetation

The remarkable floral diversity of this landscape is evident from the distribution patterns of a sample of 1 936 plant taxa from plant families and genera which are characteristic of the Cape flora, such as Proteaceae, Ericaceae, Restionaceae and Bruniaceae. The highest percentage occurrence of these taxa per quarter degree square (20% to 26%) is found in Landscape Central.

The great diversity of plants is attributed to the change in complement of species along environmental gradients and the variation in species in the same habitat type from one geographical location to another. Winter rains along with mist-precipitation from the southeaster clouds in the summer provide the habitat for a number of rare protea and Mimetes species. The Boland Mountain Complex has the highest concentration of Mimetes species in the Western Cape, most notably the rare Mimetes hottentoticus.

Protea stokoei (pink sugarbush), classified as endangered, is restricted to the moist, peaty soils and high altitudes of the Kogelberg, Hottentots Holland and Groenland mountains.

Related reserves

Cederberg Landscape Scott Ramsay
Cederberg Wilderness Area

The Cederberg was proclaimed as a Wilderness in 1973. The 66811 ha of mountainous terrain is located in the Cape Floral Region only three hours outside Cape Town, but it feels like a different world.