Megadiverse fynbos shrublands to invasive wattle tree monoculture.
The southwestern tip of Africa is home to the Fynbos biome (Cape Floristic Region), which is characterised by highly diverse plant groups, many of which are endemic and occur nowhere else in the world. Numerous species of Australian acacia (wattles) were introduced to South Africa for multiple reasons, including sand/dune stabilisation, ornamental purposes, and forestry. Many species have subsequently naturalised and some are widespread invaders. The Australian wattles have filled an empty niche (trees in a virtually treeless system) causing a regime shift. This shift has induced many negative impacts to the social-ecological system in the area. These include alterations to fire and hydrological systems, changes in soil nutrient cycles, biodiversity loss, and negative impacts on local livelihoods and human well-being through loss of grazing, water supply, ecotourism and increased exposure to natural hazards. Ongoing management interventions include mechanical and chemical control and the use of biological control agents.
Type of regime shift
- Introduction of aline species (Biological invasions)
- Mediterranean shrubs (egFynbos)
- Small-scale subsistence crop cultivation
- Large-scale commercial crop cultivation
- Extensive livestock production (natural rangelands)
- Timber production
Spatial scale of the case study
- Local/landscape (e.g. lake, catchment, community)
Continent or Ocean
- Western Cape, South Africa
- South Africa
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