Please note: this is a reissue of chapter 18 of The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Strelitzia, Volume 19).
The publication of The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland marked a milestone on a long journey laid down by South African vegetation science and plant ecology. The classification of South Africa’s terrestrial ecosystems and featuring the diversity of vegetation types on a map resulted in a resource now widely used by not only botanists, vegetation scientists and plant ecologists, but also by users of botanical, vegetation and ecological information including those involved in zoology, other biological sciences, tertiary education, environmental consulting, nature conservation, and policy making. What then, is the role of this ‘Atlas’, which reprints Chapter 18 of the book – the vegetation map itself?
The reason for producing the field atlas is that The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland as a tool has two major drawbacks: It is heavy (over 3.8 kg) and delicate (printed on high-quality, heavy paper, but poorly resistant to water). Thus it is not well-suited to handling in the field and under wet conditions. The Vegetation Field Atlas of Continental South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, consisting of thirty-one pages of the map itself and eight pages of legend and printed on tear- and waterproof paper, should become a welcome companion to each field-based researcher. This should boost the use of the vegetation map and allow errors or omissions to be more easily detected; resulting in further improvements to the vegetation map.