Baakens Valley Action
The Baakens River Valley
BAAKENS VALLEY ACTION

Vegetation

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area contains five of South Africa’s nine biomes and three of these occur in the Baakens River Valley: fynbos, sub-tropical thicket and forest.

These vegetation types occur in various different parts of the Valley due to variation in micro-climatic conditions and topographical orientation. The south facing slopes create habitats for thicket and forest vegetation while the north facing support fynbos vegetation. Fynbos is the dominant vegetation types, forming 90% of the vegetation.

Forest in the Baakens Valley has been threatened by burning and cutting and this vegetation type is now mostly confined to the kloofs in the middle and lower reaches. Forest reaches six to seven metres and includes the Podocarpus falcatus (Outeniqua Yellowwood), Oleo eruopaea (Wild Olive),  Tarchananthus camphorates (Wild Camphor), Acacia karoo (Sweet Thorn), Sideroxylon inerme (White Milkwood) and  Ekebergia capensis (Cape Ash).

The sub-tropical thicket vegetation is largely characterised by the aloes such as the Aloe pluridens and the Aloe africana. Where forest merges with thicket the height is around 4m and is composed of 30 tree and shrub species.

The fynbos on the drier north facing slopes are characterised mainly by Erica spp. (heathers), the Protea family (Proteas, Lecospermums and Leucoodendrons) and Restios. The rocky outcrops support a great variety of succulent species.

Thus, the variety of vegetation types in the Baakens River Valley is extremely rich and varied.  These types have been classified into five categories, four of which are critically endangered (the Baakens Forest thicket, Baakens Bontveld, Baakens Grassy Fynbos and Lorraine Transitional Grassy Fynbos) and one which is endangered (Rowallan Park Grassy Fynbos).

Indigenous riparian vegetation consists of the red data species Sarcocornia capensis (salt marsh) and other common freshwater vegetation such as Juncus kraussii and papyrus.

Alien vegetation has invaded large areas of the Valley with the most aggressive being the Aacia spp. (Longleaf Wattle and Port Jackson) which were brought to Port Elizabeth to stabalise the dunes and have no natural enemies. The riverine areas are also prone to alien infestation such as the Ecichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth) and the Elodea canadensis (Canadian water weed) which increases from silt build up and further impedes river flow, causing floods. Sediment build up has also resulted in an encroachment of terrestrial plants into the riparian zones.