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Namibia Vegetation

 
 
 

About 60% of Namibia consists of Savannah and the balance is divided between types of desert and woodland. Savannah dominates the highlands and desert, the Namib. Both Savannah and woodland are found in the Kalahari.
Woodland is confined to the north and north-east, where rainfall is heaviest, and to river courses in the drier parts of the country where they form so-called `linear oases’.

Generally speaking, Namibia is divided into desert, succulent Karoo, Nama Karoo and Savannah biomes – natural regions where given forms of plant life are dominant.

With annual plants, largely grasses, as the dominant form of plant life, the major part of the Namib constitutes the desert biome. This is the only part of Southern Africa designated as such. Its southern end, where rain falls mainly in winter and roughly between Luderitz and the Orange river, form part of another biome - the succulent Karoo - with dwarf succulents as the dominant plants.

The greater part of the succulent Karoo, recognised as one of the 25 bio diversity hotspots in the world, lies on the South African side of the Orange river.

The southern interior lies primarily in the Nama Karoo biome that, like the succulent Karoo, extends far southwards into South Africa. Dwarf shrubs and perennial grasses are, jointly, the dominant forms of plant life.

The northern half of the Namibian escarpment, a narrow ribbon between the Namib and the Highlands proper, is regarded as a projection of the Nama Karoo.

The rest of the country forms part of the largest biome in Southern Africa, the Savannah biome. This extends over the central and northern highlands, all of the Namibian Kalahari and westward, across Botswana, to the other side of the sub-continent. Here woody trees and shrubs share dominance with perennial grasses.

On the basis of annual rainfall and evaporation rates, the Savannah biome is subdivided into arid and moist parts, roughly located in the south and north of the 500 millimetre isohyets.

Easily the larger of the two within Namibia, the arid savannah mostly supports fine-leafed, thorny acacia trees and shrubs that are common in Southern Africa. There are about 20 species of acacia in the biome. The vegetative structure is quintessentially like parkland, with solitary trees or strands of trees scattered over expanses of grassland.

Moist savannah, in the Namibian context, is only marginally wetter than arid savannah, notwithstanding the presence of permanent wetlands and swallow groundwater in places. The difference in maximum rainfall barely rises above 200 millimetres over a year.

As little as it is, it does makes a difference. Vegetation in the moist savannah, rooted in the Kalahari in the north, resembles woodland in structure with few tracts of open savannah. Trees and shrubs are taller, grow closer together and form a denser canopy. Broad-leaved species dominate.

 

 

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