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Vegetation & climate

By Samara on March 24, 2015

Samara’s propitious location where the plains meet the mountains has endowed the area with a climate quite unlike that typically encountered on the Karoo flats. Throughout most of the Karoo, the rain carried by humid sea winds is released on the windward side of the mighty mountain chains that form the Karoo escarpment, leaving the lee side dry. As such, much of the Karoo grasslands receive as little as 400mm of rain annually. At Samara, however, the greater elevations and proximity to the mountain range ensure a higher and more consistent rainfall, reaching 800mm per annum in places. Summer days tend to be hot, with late afternoon thunderstorms as the clouds build up over the escarpment and cooler evenings. Winter in the Karoo is mostly mild and sunny, although, as their name suggests, the mountains receive occasional snowfall. Given this climatic diversity, Samara boasts a number of different vegetation types, each associated with a different micro-climate. Each vegetation type is called a ‘biome’, and of the nine biomes present in South Africa, Samara houses four: Nama Karoo, Subtropical Thicket, Grassland and Savanna. Of these, Nama Karoo, Subtropical Thicket and Grassland are nationally recognized as being under-conserved, and their inclusion in the reserve forms an important contribution to national conservation efforts. On a global scale, Samara includes areas of the Maputaland-Pondoland Albany Hotspot, one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots designated as international priorities for conservation. This hotspot is an important centre of plant endemism, and is particularly renowned for its temperate forest diversity and its richness in succulent flora. In order to survive in the arid Karoo, these resilient plants have developed a plethora of ingenious tricks to conserve water, escape the harsh sun, and spread their pollen and seed far and wide. According to Conservation International, one type of forest, three types of thicket, six types of bushveld and five types of grassland present in this hot spot are found nowhere else in the world.


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