Botanical and critical habitat surveys

High Conservation Value Assessments

Flora assessment

The aims of the flora assessment compliant to an international accepted High Conservation Value (HCV) Assessment includes the following:

– To identify the broader vegetation types within the proposed areas of development (with an emphasis on critical habitat) and to describe the different broader vegetation types through a proper desktop study. The heterogeneity of the vegetation is depended on environmental factors such as climate and rainfall, geology, soils and may be influenced by management practise;
– To assess the potential presence of important plant species and to identify and list all rare and / or Red Data plant species that may possibly be present within the area of interest;
– To investigate the availability of relocation sites (possibly nurseries) should the country legislation require the removal of important species from the site;
– To identify the potential impacts and mitigation measures on the natural vegetation due to the proposed transmission lines and related infrastructure.
– A desktop study of the natural vegetation of the proposed areas which will include an introduction, methodology applied to conduct the scoping, general vegetation descriptions, including species lists of prominent species listed according to available literature. All rare and endangered species, exotic and invader species, as well as all medicinal plants within the species lists compiled from available literature will be identified and listed.

This will be done primarily with the use of available vegetation maps of the country (which is limited) and our current knowledge of the country on a large-scale basis. The broad vegetation types of the project area will be identified by means of the existing literature. Maps will further be investigated by means of Aerial photographs or satellite images (if available) in order to identify different plant homogenous or heterogeneous areas that may represent different plant communities or vegetation types. These will be analysed and the different vegetation types identified from the aerial photographs or satellite images will be demarcated on a broad vegetation map.


A floristic survey will be conducted during the wet season to firstly adhere to internationally accepted best practice requirements for vegetation studies and to determine the species composition of the area of interest. The field work will also encompass forest edges and ecotone areas. This will give an indication of the actual species present on site and these will be discussed in context of plant communities (should the area support distinct communities) within the ecosystem of the area. The protected, endemic, exotic, alien invasive and culturally significant species will also be discussed as separate issues and related back to relevant legal requirements.
A specific sampling method will be used during vegetation survey, however should dominant vegetation types require other methods be used, then these shall be motivated. The sampling method allows for the following to be compiled:

– Vegetation classification regarding plant communities within the area and sub communities and variations of these.
– Species list for each plant community, including diagnostic and dominant species.
– Invasive species (if present) for each plant community.
– Exotic species (if present) for each plant community.
– Protected, Red Data and endemic species for each plant community.
– Culturally significant plant species within each community.

The quantity and location of sampling sites or plots will be finalised prior to field work commencing, the methodology responsible for the stratification of sampling points include soil form, terrain type, land type and aspect. These physical features provide a diversified habitat, which is responsible for the differentiation of vegetation types into homogenous units. The physical size of the stratified vegetation sample plots will be 20m x 20m, which is the accepted size for a savannah biome sample plot. Quantity of vegetation sampling plots are a product of the physical size of the homogenous units identified, with large units containing proportionally more sampling points than small units.