Analysis of the riparian vegetation (Ia land type) of the proposed Vhembe-Dongola National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
The establishment of the Vhembe-Dongola National Park in South Africa has been an objective of several conservationists for many years. The ultimate objective is that this park would become a major component of a transfrontier park shared by Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The aim of this study was to identify, classify and describe the plant communities present in the Ia land type of the proposed area for the park. Sampling was done by means of the Braun-Blanquet method. A total of 70 stratified random relevés were sampled in the Ia land type. All relevé data was imported into the database TURBOVEG after which the numerical classification technique TWINSPAN was used as a first approximation. Subsequently Braun-Blanquet procedures were used to refine data and a phytosociological table was constructed, using the visual editor, MEGATAB. From the phytosociological table four plant communities (Salvadora australis-Cucumis zeyheri, Hyphaene petersiana-Acacia tortilis, Croton megalobotrys-Combretum microphyllum and Diplachne fusca-Acacia xanthophloea) were identified and described in the Ia land type. The ordination algorithm, DECORANA, was applied to the floristic data in order to illustrate floristic relationships between plant communities, to detect possible gradients in and between communities and to detect possible habitat gradients and/or disturbance gradients associated with vegetation gradients.