Southern African Sand Forest

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Sand Forest at Nibela Peninsula, Lake St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal

Southern African Sand Forest is a sand forest, or a subtropical forest plant community of the tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests biome. It grows on ancient sand dunes in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique. In South Africa these forests are known simply as Sand Forest, while in Mozambique they are known as Licuati Forest.[1] The Southern African sand forest is part of the Maputaland coastal forest mosaic ecoregion.


Sand forests are thought to be relics of coastal dune forests, which have been separated from the ocean for more than a million years as the shoreline has shifted slowly eastwards over the millennia.[2] Dunes have accreted on the southeast African coastal plain since the Pliocene,[3] and frequent sand mobilization events during climatic changes have resulted in some reworking of the dunes.[4] The geological history of the region suggests that the current ecosystems here may be of recent derivation and many endemic plant taxa comply with the concept of neo-endemics (recent locally evolved species), and biological evolution (notably speciation) is still in an active phase.[1]


Newtonia hildebrandtii (a characteristic sand forest species) at Nibela Peninsula
Cola greenwayi at Nibela Peninsula

Of the 225 Maputaland Centre plant endemic species, 30 are associated with sand forest and 20 are restricted to this vegetation type.[1] Species typical of moist forests, such as ferns and mosses are scarce, and the activities of termites appear to limit the accumulation of leaf litter.[5] Sand forest has a distinct boundary and also exhibits a narrow zone of 1–2 m of nearly bare soil directly bordering it.[1] There are indications that sand forest has allelopathic effects which may bring about this zone of inhibition and this aids in limiting fires spreading from the neighboring savannah into the forest; creating a unique environment for itself.[1]

List of trees (Incomplete)[edit]

List references[1][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wayne Matthews. "Maputaland's Tembe Elephant National Park, - a little known reserve with many natural secrets". Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  2. ^ Duncan Butchart CC Africa (21 November 2006). "Eyes on the wild". Archived from the original on 6 August 2007.
  3. ^ Soil chronosequence development in dunes on the southeast African coastal plain, Maputaland, South Africa Quaternary International Volumes 162-163, March 2007, Pages 111-132 The Soil Record of Quaternary Climate Change. Greg Botha and Naomi Porat
  4. ^ The luminescence chronology of dune development on the Maputaland coastal plain, southeast Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews Volume 27, Issues 9-10, May 2008, Pages 1024-1046 Naomi Porat and Greg Botha
  5. ^ Duncan Butchart CC Africa (21 November 2006). "eyes on the wild". Archived from the original on 6 August 2007.
  6. ^ Pooley, E. (1993). The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei. ISBN 0-620-17697-0.