A vegetation map for the Little Karoo.

Introduction

Participants at a Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Planning (SKEP) workshop, held in
Oudtshoorn on 25-26 March 2003, identified the need for a vegetation map of the Little
Karoo region. They indicated that a detailed map of the vegetation of the Little Karoo
region is required to provide baseline information for informed decision-making on
conservation, sustainable commercial farming and land-use planning in the region. The
ultimate purpose of this vegetation map, and hence this project, is to enable landowners,
land managers, environmental conservation agencies and regional planners to take
informed decisions on sustainable land-use practices and when determining priorities for
conservation projects in the Little Karoo region.

The Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Planning (SKEP) project identified the Little Karoo
map project as a high priority for their Southern Karoo sub-region and Regalis
Environmental Services CC approached the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
(CEPF) for potential funding for this project. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is
a joint initiative of Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the
Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental
goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. The Critical
Ecosystem Partnership Fund subsequently afforded a grant to Regalis Environmental
Services to proceed with the project. The four main outputs required in this project are as
follows;

  1. To produce a map of all the vegetation units that occur in the Little Karoo area at
    a scale of 1:50 000 in electronic (ArcView) format at each of the four tiers of the
    vegetation classification system.
  2. To produce a document in which the four-tier classification system is described
    and in which diagnostic descriptions and illustrations are provided for all the
    vegetation units that have been mapped in the Little Karoo.
  3. The vegetation transformation layers that will be produced by an affiliated project
    must be ground truthed.
  1. All the relevant stakeholders agree upon a way in which a fine-scale conservation
    plan will be developed for the critical natural capital of the Little Karoo.

The latter point pertains to a potential continuation of the project after the vegetation map
and transformation layers for the vegetation of the Little Karoo have been produced. In
this document only the results of the field survey for the vegetation map are presented.

The project team for this project entitled “A vegetation Map for the Little Karoo.”
consisted of;

  1. Prof. R.M. Cowling (Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit, University of Port
    Elizabeth), who supervised and provided guidance in the development of the
    project.
  2. Mr. J.H.J. Vlok (Regalis Environmental Services, Oudtshoorn), who mapped the
    vegetation and described the vegetation units.
  3. Mr. T. Wolf (Trevor Wolf, Knysna), who was responsible for digitizing and the
    production of the electronic maps.
  4. Me. Elna van den Berg (Institute for Soil, Climate and Water, Potchefstroom),
    who prepared the hard copies of the LANDAT images used to map the vegetation.

The project team wishes to acknowledge and thank the Critical Ecosystem Partnership
Fund for the grant that funded this project (Grant Code 1064410304). We also wish to
thank the delegates that attended a workshop, held on the 22nd November 2004 in
Oudtshoorn, to present the mapping results of this project and to discuss the main
requirements of stakeholders during a second phase of this project. We are very grateful
to Marina Moller and Susan Botha for assistance during this workshop and for keeping
minutes of the meeting. The outcomes of this workshop are summarized in Chapter 6.

Lastly Jan Vlok wishes to thank all the landowners who provided permission to access
their land and especially my wife Anne Lise and daughter Marlene for their patience and
support during this study.