Forests tend to occur in patches, few of which cover areas greater than one square kilometre. Areas greater than this only occur in the higher and wetter parts of Zululand such as Nkandla and Ongoye. Even added together, forests cover less than 0.25% of Southern Africa's surface area, making this the smallest biome on the subcontinent. Alberta magna Albizia adianthifolia Celtis africana Curtisia dentata Cussonia spicata Ekebergia capensis Newtonia hildebrandtii Ocotea bullata Podocarpus falcatus Pteleopsis myrtifolia Strelitzia nicolai.

Coastal Forest

Develops where rainfall is usually greater than 700 mm per year, and is more prevalent in summer rainfall regions. Temperatures are never extreme due to the moderating maritime influence and species distributions may be limited in the south by the colder climates. Apart from rainfall and temperature, important environmental parameters are wind and salt spray. The tall trees may be severely 'pruned' by high winds and salt damage and this restricts the distribution of forest on exposed dunes. In its best-developed form Coastal Forest has trees up to 30 m tall and distinct strata of trees, shrubs and herbs. The higher rainfall and more stable climate allow a richer forest flora than that of Afromontane Forest. Dune Thicket is found in more exposed situations, and reaches forest proportions only in sheltered areas, such as behind dunes. Coastal Forest is well-conserved in reserves in KwaZulu-Natal such as Harold Johnson, Vernon Crookes, Charters Creek, Maphelana, Cape Vidal, and Ongoye.

Afromontane Forest

Patches of forest with Afromontane floristic affinities occur all along the Drakensberg mountain chain at altitudes from 800m up to 2100m. They occur on south-facing ridges and in ravines where moisture is higher and the maximum effect of the south-westerly and south-easterly wind-driven rains is apparent. Forests of this region range from small to extensive patches on mountain-sides depending on locality and variation in aspect, geology and soils. Rainfall is generally greater than 700 mm per year, occurring during summer. Temperatures can be extreme in some of the higher altitudes where snowfalls may occasionally occur. Trees can be up to 30 m or 40 m tall and distinct strata of emergent trees, canopy trees and shrub and herb layers are present. As is evident from the way the forest is confined to kloofs and gullies, water is a key limiting factor. However, Afromontane Forest would certainly spread into both grasslands and Fynbos were it not for fires. All forest patches are in fire-safe habitats with the largest stands occurring in moist valleys.

Sand Forest

This is confined to the tropical and subtropical coastal belt of KwaZulu-Natal as far south as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. Sand Forest is distinctive in the preponderance of deciduous to semi-deciduous elements, especially in the canopy. They form dense, almost impenetrable stands, up to 25 m tall. Ndumo, Mkhuze Game Reserves, Sodwana State Forest , Tembe Elephant Park and False Bay Park contain examples of Sand Forest. With grateful thanks to Elsa Pooley's Trees of Natal and Wildflowers of KwaZulu-Natal, Rob Scott-Shaw's Rare and Threatened Plants and Tainton, Bransby and deV. Booysen's Common Veld and Pasture Grasses of Natal.

Forest Destinations

  • Dlinza
  • Entumeni
  • Ncandu
  • Ongoye
  • Nkandla