• Grasses

    of the Crocodile River Reserve

    Grass in the Crocodile River Reserve

Grasses of the Crocodile River Reserve

Grasslands offer a intricate ecosystem which supports a wide diversity of organisms from insects and frogs to mammals, birds and reptiles. South Africa is home to many types of grasslands and in Gauteng we have the Egoli Granite Grassland which which is classified as Endangered and occurs nowehere else in South Africa.

Each grass species has been given an ecological status which groups similar types of grass together based on their reaction to grazing. There are 5 groups of grasses: Decreasers, Increaser I, Increaser II, Increaser III and Invaders.

Less than 3% of South African grasslands are formally protected even though the grasslands are second only to the Fynbos Biome for plant diversity. Grasslands also support a greater number of species per unit of measure than fynbos – grassland 81 species per 1 000 m², whereas fynbos sits at 65.

More than 40% of the Grassland Biome has been irreversibly modified, and 60% of what remains is considered threatened. This is why the Crocodile River Reserve and the Grassland Stewardship Alliance is so important in preserving this unique and irreplaceable land.

Worldwide we find the focus on tree planting for carbon sequestration. But is this the right strategy for South Africa?

Africa is considered a small sink of carbon (i.e. absorbs more carbon than it releases). In South Africa, over 60% of the terrestrial carbon stocks are stored in grassland and savanna ecosystems. These are systems that are designed to burn.

It is said that more than 90% of these carbon stocks are stored in the soil, mostly in the form of soil organic carbon which is a very safe place for carbon to be.

We know that South Africa is a water-scarce country and given that our grasslands seem to be doing a good job at putting carbon into the soil, should we be steering away from the mounting international pressure for more tree planting, and focus on the appropriate policies for our regional grasslands?

Source: SAEON Grasslands Carbon Project

Some of our Grass Species

Black Footed Signal Grass
Centipede Grass
Common Bristle Grass
Curly Leaf Grass
Giant Spear Grass
Mountain Red Top Grass
Narrow Heart Love Grass
Natal Red Top
Red Autumn Grass
Red Grass
Spear Grass
Thatch Grass
Weeping Love Grass
Rehmann’s Trident Grass
Stab Grass
Broad-leaved Bluestem Grass

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