Drakensberg’s vegetation belts

Introduction to the Drakensberg’s Vegetation Belts

The Drakensberg has three vegetation belts: Montane or MountainSub-Alpine and Alpine. These belts are determined by altitude. The Montane Belt occurs roughly below 1,600 metres; the Sub-Alpine Belt is between some 1,600 metres and 2,600 metres; and the Alpine Belt at higher altitudes. There is a strong correlation between the geology of the Drakensberg and its vegetation belts. The Alpine belt is found in the basalt band, Sub Alpine above the Cave Sandstone deposits and Montane below the Cave Sandstone deposits.

The vegetation belts’ vegetation is determined by slope and orientation (aspect) to the sun (north facing or south facing), as illustrated in the following table.

Belt Orientation Altitude Vegetation
Montane North 1300m to 1800m  Protea Savanna
South Podacarmus or temperate Forest
Parallel Boulder bed scrub
Sub-Alpine North  1800m to 2800m Thermeda (temperate) & Festuca Grassland
South Fynbos
Parallel Thermeda (temperate) Grassland
Alpine North 2800m plus Erica-Helichrysum
South Heath
Parallel Erica-Helichrysum

Source: Kilick, 1963

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