Vegetation Index of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – January 7th, 201028.8S 30.4E
While South Africa has a great wealth of flowering plants, only 1% of South Africa is forest, almost exclusively in the humid coastal plain of KwaZulu-Natal, where there are also areas of Southern Africa mangroves in river mouths.
This fact is reflected in the vegetation index show in this FAPAR image, as the red and dark green areas indicative of high photosynthetic activity are mostly located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
There are even smaller reserves of forests that are out of the reach of fire, known as montane forests. Plantations of imported tree species are predominant, particularly the non-native eucalyptus and pine.
South Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat in the last four decades, primarily due to overpopulation, sprawling development patterns and deforestation during the nineteenth century. The original temperate forest found by the first European settlers was exploited ruthlessly until only small patches remained.
South Africa is also one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to invasion by alien species with many posing a significant threat to the native biodiversity and the already scarce water resources.