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dc.contributor.advisorEllery, William N.
dc.creatorGovender, Indrani.
dc.date.accessioned2011-08-08T11:22:36Z
dc.date.available2011-08-08T11:22:36Z
dc.date.created2000
dc.date.issued2000
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10413/3354
dc.descriptionThesis (M.Sc.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2000.en
dc.description.abstractThe vegetation along the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal has long been considered to have originally consisted of forest, scrub forest and savanna. The classical view is that in the last 600 years the early Africans and European farmers were responsible for the removal of forest and scrub forest along the coast. This view was not based on direct evidence but on the theory that the eastern part of the country has a climate "suitable" for forest and scrub forest. The present 'false' grasslands were thus thought to have developed through anthropogenic influences. All of this has its basis in the paradigm of ecological succession and the presence of a "climatic climax". This traditional view has been contested recently, based on archaeological, historical, biogeographical and ecological evidence that has become available since the 1950's. It is suggested that South Africa's grass lands have been in existence for the last two thousand years but probably for more than ten thousand years. This study aims to investigate this controversy in greater detail, using evidence from archaeological records, travellers records, transcripts, historical reviews, and diarised records. The locations of archaeological sites within the study area were determined and mapped out, followed by an analysis and interpretation of the data with reference to vegetation change. Archaeological evidence included shell middens, evidence of iron working and pottery remains. The activities of the early humans included iron smelting, agriculture and stock farming. Their activities required the selective use of vegetation for specific purposes, and vegetation was cleared for homesteads and villages. However, the density of people within the study area was low, and there was limited technological development, such that extensive clearing by relatively few people is unlikely. Furthermore, sites are concentrated along the coastline, with fewer sites away from the coast, suggesting that impacts would have been greatest along the coastline. However, this is where forests presently occur. Overall, the evidence suggests that the natural vegetation on the north coast was not modified drastically by precolonial settlers. Historical accounts of early travellers and settlers indicate a strip of forest along the coastline and a grassland/woodland mosaic away from the coast. Records of mammals suggest a fauna typical of savannas and not forest. With settlement over time, the major activity that impacted on the north coast vegetation, was agriculture. Sugar cane plantations contributed considerably to the clearing of vegetation that seems to have consisted primarily of open grasslands with patches of trees. Colonial settlement of this area resulted in various activities that required the large-scale removal of natural vegetation. It is important to know the human disturbance history of an area as this helps to assess the extent of change and to design appropriate management strategies for conservation of plant resources. The belief that the early vegetation of the north coast was forest has placed great emphasis on the conservation of forests along this coastal area. Based on this study, it seems that this vegetation type should not be the focus of conservation efforts, but that coastal grasslands with scattered bush clumps should be given much greater emphasis. Grasslands were more widespread in the region prior to European settlement, and based on this, conservationists should place greater emphasis on preserving this habitat.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.subjectVegetation dynamics--KwaZulu-Natal.en
dc.subjectForest ecology.en
dc.subjectTheses--Geography.en
dc.titleA study of vegetation change along the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal from the Umgeni River to the Tugela River.en
dc.typeThesisen


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