EFTEON Landscapes

Extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders has led to the selection of six ecosystem research sites located across the country for the Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON)

IMAGE: The National Research Foundation designates the long-term landscape-scale research sites of the Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON) Research Infrastructure.

Greater Cape Town (Western Cape)

This Landscape links the Atlantic Ocean to the peaks of the Boland Mountains Strategic Water Source Area, covering steep climate gradients and a hyperdiverse mix of lowland (strandveld and renosterveld) and upland (mountain fynbos) major vegetation formations of the Fynbos Biome, interspersed with pockets of Southern Afrotemperate Forest. This environmental template supports and interacts with a diverse socio-econo-cultural mix, inhabiting a tapestry of urban, agricultural and natural land use/land cover types. The landscape offers a direct link to a number of SARIR research infrastructures including the Shallow Marine and Coastal Research Infrastructure (Two Oceans Sentinel Site), the BioGrip Cape Point Atmospheric Monitoring Site (Global Atmospheric Watch) and two nodes (UCT and SUN), and the Cape Town South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN) site.

Garden Route Gateway (George, Western Cape)

This landscape provides access to a large number of biomes such as Fynbos, Southern Afrotemperate Forest, Succulent Karoo and Coastal Thicket. Hydrologically this landscape has river systems draining the Karoo region and short-course high-energy systems draining the Cape Fold Mountains. This area is home to coastal wetlands and exhibits an excellent source-to-sea opportunity. The area is undergoing rapid urbanisation and agricultural intensification. Strong links have been developed in this concept to a number of satellite sites, extending the footprint of the infrastructure into the surrounding biomes.

Maputaland (Northern KwaZulu-Natal)

This is the most tropical of the selected landscapes and is an important region for observing changes in the impact of tropical meteorological systems. The system presents a valuable hydrological research site as it is a groundwater-driven system exhibiting strong responses to land use and climatic influences and abstraction resulting in significant social and ecological consequences.

KIMTRI (Kimberley area, Northern Cape and Western Free State)

This is the most arid of the landscapes selected and is located in the transition zone between the Nama Karoo, Arid Savanna and Grassland Biomes. Urban developments in the city of Kimberley as well as land use change resulting from developments in the agriculture, energy and mining sector are a feature of this landscape. Hydrologically the area is important as it is trisected by major river systems draining the interior of the country. Close links to the newly promulgated Sol Plaatje University and the University of the Free State are expected.

Northern Maluti-Drakensberg (Cathedral Peak and surrounds, KwaZulu-Natal)

This landscape lies in the northern sections of the Maluti-Drakensberg escarpment in the headwaters of the Tugela River where complex socio-ecological issues are emerging. It builds on the historical research site at Cathedral Peak and extends the research infrastructure out of the World Heritage Site into areas of both subsistence and commercial agriculture in the headwaters of the Tugela River. This area is of value as a high-altitude location with C3/C4 grassland, and grassland/savanna transitions.

Lowveld (Mpumalanga)

This landscape links the extensive historical social and ecological research infrastructure across land tenure and conservation systems. The landscape comprises conservation lands use (Kruger National Park and private conservation areas) that are well studied, with adjacent lands under traditional authority management and with villages that are well studied through the SAPRIN Agincourt Research infrastructure. The landscape is bisected by a number of rivers that pass through the different land use systems.