Original Research

Vegetation Map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 2018: A description of changes since 2006

Anisha Dayaram, Linda R. Harris, Barend A. Grobler, Stephni van der Merwe, Anthony G. Rebelo, Leslie Ward Powrie, Johannes H.J. Vlok, Philip G. Desmet, Mcebisi Qabaqaba, Keneilwe M. Hlahane, Andrew L. Skowno
Bothalia | Vol 49, No 1 | a2452 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v49i1.2452 | © 2019 Anisha Dayaram, Linda R. Harris, Barend A. Grobler, Stephni van der Merwe, Anthony G. Rebelo, Leslie Ward Powrie, Johannes H.J. Vlok, Philip G. Desmet, Mcebisi Qabaqaba, Keneilwe M. Hlahane, Andrew L. Skowno | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 April 2019 | Published: 17 October 2019

About the author(s)

Anisha Dayaram, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Restoration and Conservation Biology Research Group, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Linda R. Harris, Coastal and Marine Research Institute, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Barend A. Grobler, African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Department of Botany, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Stephni van der Merwe, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Anthony G. Rebelo, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Leslie Ward Powrie, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Johannes H.J. Vlok, Department of Botany, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Philip G. Desmet, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Mcebisi Qabaqaba, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Keneilwe M. Hlahane, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
Andrew L. Skowno, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The Vegetation Map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (National Vegetation Map [NVM]) is a fundamental data set that is updated periodically. The National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) 2018 process provided an opportunity for a more comprehensive revision of the NVM and better alignment between the terrestrial, marine and estuarine ecosystem maps.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to update the NVM 2018 and quantify spatial and classification changes since NVM 2012, and describe the rationale and data sources utilised. We also quantified spatial errors corrected in this version, highlighted progress since NVM 2006, and identified errors and gaps to make recommendations for future revisions.

Method: Edits made to the NVM in ArcMap 10.4 were categorised into the following five groups for analysis: (1) New types, (2) Boundary edits, (3) Realm re-assignment, (4) Removed and replaced vegetation types and (5) Deleted map area. Changes were quantified by category and biome. We used various software platforms to correct and quantify spatial errors since 2006.

Results: Vegetation types were added (n = 47), removed (n = 35) and had boundary edits (n = 107) in NVM 2018, which affected over 5% of the total map area, compared to 2.6% (2012) and 0.5% (2009) for previous versions. Several sources of error were identified and fixed, and prompted the development of standard mapping protocols.

Conclusion: National Vegetation Map 2018 is the most substantial revision of this data set that now fully aligns with maps of all other realms that form part of the NBA. However, parts of the map remain unrefined and provide opportunities for future work.


Keywords

VEGMAP Project; National Vegetation Map; National Biodiversity Assessment; vegetation mapping; vegetation classification

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