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Strohbach, B.J. 2013. Vegetation of the Okavango River valley in Kavango West, Namibia. In: Oldeland, J., Erb, C., Finckh, M. and Jürgens, N. (eds). Environmental Assessments in the Okavango Region. Biodiversity and Ecology, 5: 321–339


Description:

Vegetation of the Okavango River valley in Kavango West, Namibia.

Summary / Notes:

The vegetation of the Okavango River Valley has previously only been described in general terms along the gradient from base of the valley to the top of the sand plateau, without the clear definition of different vegetation types or distinct vegetation compo-sition. Yet the valley bottom supports a large part of the population within the region, who are dependent on ecosystem services pro-vided by the vegetation. A Braun-Blanquet type survey was conducted to describe the vegetation of the Okavango River Valley in the Kavango West Region of Namibia, with special emphasis on the floodplain vegetation. The survey followed the guidelines set out for the “Vegetation Survey of Namibia” project. The data was classified using the modified TWINSPAN procedure in Juice, resulting in four higher-order syntaxa and 11 vegetation associations. We described these associations informally according to diagnostic species, species richness and environmental variables. In the case of floodplain and wetland associations, information regarding the flooding regime (depth, duration and probability of flooding) is provided. Although the higher-order groupings within this association come out very clearly, only the wetlands could be related to similar higher-order syntaxa described for the oshana wetlands in the Cuvelai delta. The placement and validity of the other three higher-order syntaxa is unclear at this stage, and needs to be addressed in a synopsis of all existing vegetation descriptions for the greater Kalahari ecoregion. The various vegetation associations can very clearly be associat-ed with distinct positions in the landscape. The degree of flooding at the one extreme, and the sandiness of the soil on the other ex-treme, defines the vegetation type and composition. The Acacia erioloba—Schinziophyton rautanenii association (7) has been cleared and ploughed to at least 90%, with only small patches of this vegetation remaining. Expansion of fields into the sands of the terrace embankment is worrisome, leading to fears of further soil degradation and ultimately desertification. Although signs of overgrazing are visible within the floodplains, this cannot be distinctly quantified as yet. Overgrazing in the wetlands will lead to the destruction of fish spawning and breeding habitats, damaging the other major food source of the people of the region. Keywords: Braun-Blanquet, desertification, floodplain vegetation, flooding regime, land degradation, land use, phytosociology, seasonal wetland vegetation.

Year: 2013

Type: Book, Book Section, Booklet

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