The Wetland Book pp 1423-1436 | Cite as

Peatland Types and Tropical Swamp Forests on the Maputaland Coastal Plain (South Africa)

  • Althea T. GrundlingEmail author
  • Ab P. Grootjans
  • Piet-Louis Grundling
  • Jonathan S. Price
Reference work entry


The Maputaland Coastal Plain (MCP) is on the north-eastern seaboard of the KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It hosts a variety of wetlands and mire types that range from rare tropical swamp forest and calcareous fens to various inter-dune settings with groundwater-fed to surface water fed fens and floodplains. The MCP peatland areas are important not only for biodiversity (e.g. many endemic species) and supporting subsistence cultivation but they also host the largest and thickest peat deposits found in South Africa. The peatlands on the MCP developed in a drowned dune landscape and the peat thickness vary from 0.5 to 11 m. Threats and future challenges on the peatlands in Maputaland include the effects of land-use practices: plantations, agriculture and urbanization. Attempts to conserve swamp forests are often frustrated by the different management frameworks of provincial conservation agencies and the national government.


Groundwater Hydrology Mire types Subsistence cultivation 


  1. Blackmore A, Mulqueeny C. Towards developing a model for the integration of afforestation and wetland conservation within the Zululand coastal plain. Natal Parks Board Annula Research Symposium: Programme and Abstracts. 1996.Google Scholar
  2. Clymo RS. Peat. In: Gore AJP, editor. Ecosystems of the World 4A, Mires: swamp, bog, fen and moor. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1983.Google Scholar
  3. Ellery WN, Grenfell SE, Grenfell MC, Humphries MS, Barnes K, Dahlberg A, Kindness A. Peat formation in the context of the development of the Mkuze floodplain on the coastal plain of Maputaland, South Africa. Geomorphology. 2012;141–142:11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Grobler R, Moning E, Sliva J, Bredenkamp G, Grundling, P. Subsistence farming and conservation constraints in coastal peat swamp forests of the Kosi Bay lake system, Maputaland, South Africa. Géocarrefour [En ligne]. 2004; 79/4: 316–24.Google Scholar
  5. Grootjans AP, Jansen AMJ, Šefferová Stanová V, editors. Calcareous mires of Slovakia; landscape setting, management and restoration prospects. Zeist: KNNV Publishing; 2012. p. 109.Google Scholar
  6. Grundling P. Peat reserves at Lake Sibaya. Pretoria (South Africa): Council for Geoscience; 1994. Report no: 1994–0122.Google Scholar
  7. Grundling P. Sustainable Utilisation of Peat in Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In: Lüttig GW, editor. Abstracts of the 10th International Peat Society Congress. May 1996, Bremen. 1996; p. 6.Google Scholar
  8. Grundling AT, Van den Berg EC, Pretorius ML. Influence of regional environmental factors on the distribution, characteristics and functioning of hydrogeomorphic wetland types on the Maputaland Coastal Plain, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Water Research Commission Report No. 1923/1/13. ISBN 978-1-4312-0492-2. 2014.Google Scholar
  9. Grundling P, Blackmore A. Peat fire in the Vasi Pan Peatland, Manzengwenya Plantation. Pretoria (South Africa): Council for Geoscience Geological Survey; 1998. Report No. 1998–0208.Google Scholar
  10. Grundling P, Mazus H, Baartman L. Peat resources in northern KwaZulu-Natal wetlands Sustainable: Maputaland. Pretoria: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; 1998.Google Scholar
  11. Grundling P, Baartman L, Mazus H, Blackmore A. Peat resources of KwaZulu-Natal wetlands: Southern Maputaland and the North and South Coast. Pretoria (South Africa): Council for Geoscience; 2000. Report no: 2000–0132.2000.Google Scholar
  12. Grundling P, Grundling AT. Natural resource baseline assessment mapping the state of the peatland swamp forests in the catchment of Kosi Bay, Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and surrounding areas. Progress report for the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority Wetlands International: Wetland and poverty reduction project: 14. St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. 2007.Google Scholar
  13. Grundling AT, Van den Berg EC, Pretorius ML, Price JS. Assessing the distribution of wetlands over wet and dry periods and land-use change on the Maputaland Coastal Plain, north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. S Afr J Geomat. 2013a;2:120–39.Google Scholar
  14. Grundling P, Grootjans AP, Price JS, Ellery WN. Development and persistence of an African mire; how the oldest South African fen has survived in a marginal climate. Catena. 2013b;100:176–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grundling AT. Remote sensing and biophysical monitoring of vegetation, terrain attributes and hydrology to map, characterise and classify wetlands of the Maputaland Coastal Plain, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [dissertation]. Waterloo (Ont.): University of Waterloo; 2014.Google Scholar
  16. Hart RC. South African Lakes. In: Cowan GI, editor. Wetlands of South Africa. Pretoria: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; 1995. p. 103–30.Google Scholar
  17. Jones C. Carbon and Catchments: Inspiring real change in natural resource management. ‘Managing the Carbon Cycle’ NATIONAL Forum 22–23 November 2006.Google Scholar
  18. KwaZulu-Natal Top Business Umkhanyakude District Municipality. 2009. Accessed 27 Nov 2010.
  19. Lubbe RA. Vegetation and flora of the Kosi Bay Coastal Forest Reserve in Maputaland, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [master’s thesis] Pretoria (South Africa): University of Pretoria; 1997.Google Scholar
  20. Moll EJ. Terrestrial plant ecology. In: Burton MN, Cooper KH, editors. Studies on the ecology of Maputaland. Rhodes: Rhodes University & Wildlife; 1980. p. 52–68.Google Scholar
  21. Morgenthal TL, Kellner K, Van Rensburg L. Auditing the conservation status of the natural resources in the OR Tambo and Umkanyakude ISRDS Nodes. Pretoria (South Africa): Agricultural Research Council – Institute for Soil, Climate and Water; 2004. ARC-ISCW Report No. GW/A/2003/47/1.Google Scholar
  22. Robinson JC, Alberts AJ. Seasonal variation in the crop water-use coefficient of banana (cultivar ‘Williams’) in the subtropics. Sci Hortic. 1989;40:212–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) National Wetland Inventory. South African National Biodiversity Institute – Freshwater Programme. 2006. Accessed 2 April 2013.
  24. Sliva J. Maputaland – Wise Use Management in Coastal Peatland Swamp Forests in Maputaland, Mozambique/South Africa. Wageningen (NL): Wetlands International: 2004. Project No. WGP2 – 36 GPI 56.Google Scholar
  25. Smuts WJ. Peatlands of the Natal Mire Complex: geomorphology and characterization. S Afr J Sci. 1992;88:474–83.Google Scholar
  26. Taylor R, Kelbe B, Haldorsen S, Botha GA, Wejden B, Været L, Simonsen MB. Groundwater-dependent ecology of the shoreline of the subtropical Lake St. Lucia estuary. Environ Geol. 2006;49:586–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Van Bueren EM, Klijn EH, Koppenjan JF. Dealing with wicked problems in networks: analyzing an environmental debate from a network perspective. J Public Adm Res Theory. 2003;13:193–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Watkeys MK, Mason TR, Goodman PS. The role of geology in the development of Maputaland, South Africa. J Afr Earth Sci. 1993;16:205–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wessels NG. Aspects of the ecology and conservation of Swamp Forests in South Africa. [master’s thesis]. [Port Elizabeth]: Technikon; 1997.Google Scholar
  30. Wright CI, Miller WR, Cooper JAG. The late Cenozoic evolution of coastal water bodies in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Mar Geol. 2000;167:207–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Althea T. Grundling
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Ab P. Grootjans
    • 2
    • 6
  • Piet-Louis Grundling
    • 3
  • Jonathan S. Price
    • 4
  1. 1.Water Science ProgrammeAgricultural Research Council – Institute for Soil, Climate and WaterPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Centre for Energy and Environmental StudiesUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental ManagementUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  5. 5.Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research UnitUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  6. 6.Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations