Grasslands ecosystems services | WWF South Africa

	© Peter Chadwick/WWF-SA

Grassland ecosystems

Being one of South Africa's most productive landscapes, the Grasslands provides core ecosystem services for our survival.

Since humanity has been around, the Grasslands region (that stretches across provinces) has been ideal land for grazing livestock. Today about 150 000 head of cattle and 1.5 million sheep can be seen grazing in the area.

The Grasslands biome is also home to Gauteng, South Africa's economic heartland and largest urban complex, and to the significant economic sectors of productive agriculture (cultivation and livestock production), forestry and mining. As such, it offers plenty of economic opportunities for communities dependent on the land, such as eco-tourism and sustainable cattle farming.

These grasslands are also important for storing rainwater in wetlands or as ground water which is gradually released throughout the year. This water is essential for cropping and animal production in and adjacent to catchments, for high density residential areas in Gauteng, and for the Highveld power stations which produce 70% of South Africa’s electricity requirements. Other ecosystem services include pollination, soil production, flood amelioration, carbon storage, cultural and recreational amenities; and support to subsistence livelihoods.

Despite its importance, the grasslands biome has been placed under significant pressure by the very economic activities that are directly and indirectly dependent on the services that it provides. Only 1.9% of this entire area which stretches over six million hectares are being formally conserved.

	© Angus Burns
Coal mining is popular in the Grasslands region and this is the negative impacts it has on the area
© Angus Burns

Follow WWF