Because of its geography, climate and natural resources the Marico region has the capacity to sustain a variety of life forms. The Bankenveld, located at the interface between the southern Highveld grassland plateau and the central African savannah, forms a major part of the region. These biomes have a rich biodiversity including a variety of plant and animal species. Game used to be and still is plentiful. The climate is moderate. Rainfall is relatively low and surface water resources are limited, but dolomitic aquifers contain vast groundwater reserves. Thus the area has unique aquatic resources consisting of numerous dolomitic eyes with associated streams and rivers
The Marico BR includes parts of both the national Grassland and the Savannah biomes, of which 5 bioregions and seven vegetation types (as described by Mucina & Rutherford, 2006) are found within the proposed BR area. Mucina and Rutherford (2006) defines a bioregion as “a composite of spatial (vegetation) units sharing similar biotic and physico-
The area furthermore has a unique aquatic structure, as a large section is underlain by the Malmani Dolomites which give rise to numerous eyes (springs) fed by the dolomitic aquifers.
The topography in the Upper Marico River Catchment consists of flat to gently undulating hills in the south to deep ravines and gorges moving north to the town of Groot-
The section of the Upper Molopo River Catchment that falls within the proposed Marico BR area, has a mostly flat to gently undulating topography, underlain mostly by intrusive volcanic rocks and dolomitic formations. Significant aquifers are present in the dolomites. However, these aquifers tend to be relatively shallow, making them vulnerable to pollution from ground level (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, 2004). Groundwater is the only source of water supply for the rural population in the area (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, 2004).
Thus the topography, geology and hydrology of the area lead to the area having a unique combination of landscapes and ecological systems.
Furthermore, the variations in land use and human interventions from small scale agriculture in the core and buffer areas and the grazing of livestock or game, to the more habituated areas surrounding the towns of Groot-