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South Africa is the third most biologically diverse country in the world, thanks to its amazing geography and climate.

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere contains widely diverse landscapes, ranging in altitude from 300 metres above sea level in the east to in excess of 2,000m in the Drakensburg Escarpment where the plateau basin begins.

As the geography and geology vary, the average rainfall differs significantly across the Biosphere region, averaging 368mm per annum in the plains, but increasing to up to eight times the quantity (3,000mm) on the plateau. These two factors in combination lead to a wide variety of habitats and niches for flora and fauna to exploit.

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere is of particular ecological importance. It contains three major biomes (distinctive biogeographic regions), namely dry savannah woodlands, Afromontane forest and Afromontane grassland.

As the altitude (and consequently rainfall) increases from east to west, a great biodiversity can be witnessed progressing from scrub and savannah upwards into South Africa’s unique fynbos floral system, rainforests, and climax grasslands on the top of the Escarpment where water is more abundant.

RIVERS

There are four main perennial rivers that have their source in the Great Escarpment region of the Biosphere: the Selati, Makutswi, Blyde and Sand Rivers. These join the Olifants (except for the Sand) and form the Lower Olifants Catchment Basin .

FIRES

Fire is one of the most important agents capable of effecting dramatic change in ecosystems. The Lowveld Savannah is a fire-adapted system and its evolutionary history was considerably shaped by fire.

INVASIVE SPECIES

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) have probably been present in the Kruger National Park (KNP) since its proclamation in 1898. Currently, approximately 360 alien plant species are recorded in the KNP. These range from aggressively invading “transformer” weeds to less invasive “casual” alien plants.

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CLIMATE

The local weather system yields a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. Day temperatures of above 35° in summer are a common phenomenon.

GEOLOGY

The geology of the Lowveld is organised into broad bands, oriented in an approximately north-south direction. The bands represent successive layers, once horizontal but now tilted downward towards the east by the immense forces that were associated with the shifting of the continents.

ECOLOGY

The underlying geology of a region has an intimate link with the flora and fauna supported by the soils derived from the rocks. The distribution of vegetation and plant communities is more varied in the south eastern savannahs, of which the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere is a part, than other African savannahs

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BIOMES

In Southern Africa seven biomes are found, namely Fynbos, Savannah, Grassland, Nama-Karoo, Succulent Karoo, Desert and Forest. Each of these biomes is classified according to rainfall, dominant life forms and other structural characteristics.

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