Beautiful Biodiversity

Maputaland is one of the most biodiverse and breathtaking regions on the planet. Before continuing reading, here is a short glossary to make it easier:

A Biodiversity Hotspot is an area that is species rich AND threatened by habitat loss.

Ramsar Sites are wetlands designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention

Important Birding Areas (IBA’s) are areas identified using an internationally agreed set of criteria as being globally important for the conservation of bird populations

A Centre of Endemism is a location that has a high percentage of endemic species.

An endemic species is one that is only found in that specific area and nowhere else on earth.

Rehabitate works in one of the most beautiful and unique regions of the world, Maputaland.  This forms the largest and most northerly portion of the Maputaland–Pondoland–Albany World Biodiversity Hotspot. 

The Maputaland–Pondoland–Albany World Biodiversity Hotspot is globally recognised for its conservation importance. It contains the iSimangaliso Wetland Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, five RAMSAR sites and ten Important Bird Areas.

Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany World Biodiversity Hotspot (CEPF)

With some of the highest human densities in sub-Saharan Africa, the hotspot’s biodiversity faces a number of threats, agriculture and timber production among them.

Six of the eight terrestrial biomes and three of the six marine bioregions of South Africa are within the hotspot. One type of forest, three types of thickets, six types of bushveld and five types of grassland are endemic to the hotspot. Further a unique succulent flora and its forests have the highest species richness of any temperate forests on the planet.  About 80 percent of South Africa’s remaining forests fall within this hotspot with at least 598 tree species in less than 30,000 km². The freshwater systems are some of the most diverse in Southern Africa, with exceptionally high species richness. Finally, the adjacent marine environment is equally diverse with a range of unique reef types, waters that are a centre of diversity for sharks, rays and skates, include five of the seven world’s turtle species, and contain an extraordinary number of marine endemics. Maputaland can be said to includes some of the rarest geological, ecological, wildlife, botanical and natural heritage in Africa. The importance of flora conservation is overwhelming in that at least 84% of known threatened species in the region are plants (Table below).

Terrestrial Species of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot (adapted from CEPF 2021)

The Maputland section falls within southern Mozambique, north-eastern South Africa and western eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). It covers an area of approximately 17,000 km2/ 1.7 million Ha/ 4.2 million acres.

Maputaland is a region in which the topography and geology are undoubtedly the two most noteworthy features responsible for contributing to the uniqueness of the area, specifically regarding the species-rich fauna and flora found here. It contains such remarkable biodiversity and high levels of plant endemism that it has been recognised as an IUCN Centre of Plant Endemism. Not only are the numbers of endemics high, but they are also virtually spread across an entire taxonomic system. Typical for the region are its diverse riverine and estuarine habitats, variable savannah and foothill grasslands, the highly specialized and threatened dune forests, and the unique endangered sand forests.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.