Part of the October Veld Plants Walk took place on the to-be-proclaimed Egoli Granite Grassland (EGG) nature reserve in Doornrandje. Prof George Bredenkamp, who led the walk, was involved with the original identification and description of EGG in Gauteng.
He says: “Human impacts on this sensitive ecosystem have resulted in an altered species composition, loss of many species, and a change from a species-rich grassland with high conservation value to a species-poor grassland with low conservation value. The conservation of the last remaining relicts of original Egoli Granite Grassland is essential.”
Surprisingly, of every six plants found in pristine South African grasslands, such as EGG, only one is a grass. Grasslands are particularly species-rich and support 81 species per hectare, compared with 86 species in the Renosterveld and 65 in the famous Fynbos.
The term “grassland” can be misleading. It probably leads to ignorant perceptions such as that of a landowner in the Conservancy who scraped his property bare, ridding it of “just bossies”, as he called it. (He's sold and moved elsewhere – beware the poor bossies of his new abode.)
Prof Bredenkamp continued: “At least 61% of Egoli Granite Grassland has been permanently transformed: by urban development (27%), by smallholdings (17%), by agriculture (cultivated lands, 12%) and by other impacts such as exotic plantations, mining and planted pastures (5%).
“An estimated additional 17% of EGG is degraded due to overgrazing, pollutants, weeds and alien species. It is therefore highly likely that the national target for conservation of this grassland type, ie 25% of the total extent, will never be realised.”
As the custodians of some of Gauteng's last remaining Egoli Granite Grassland we in the Conservancy clearly have a demanding task ahead of us.