“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story” Linda Hogan
Our South African grasslands cover one third of the country, providing an extensive range of biodiversity. Dundee and surrounding Northern Kzn fall into one of four zones – the ‘Mesic’ or ‘sourveld’ grasslands.
Grasslands play an important role in providing a food source for domestic and wild herbivores. They are complex ecosystems that provide homes for many species of flora and fauna. They also control water flow and regulation, erosion, pollination, provide building materials, traditional medicine and are vital for our eco- tourism.
Sadly our grasslands are shrinking. They are under much stress from modification for agriculture and forestry, as well as urban and industrial development. Erosion, alien plant infestation and climate change have all taken their toll.
In fact grasslands play a significant role in ridding the environment of excess carbon. Compared to other ecosystems, grasslands have high soil carbon levels as up to 90% of their biomass lies underground.
According to Professor Eugene Moll “It is our grasslands we need to protect as they are really ancient – certainly older than most of the oldest forest trees”.
The radical nun and pop artist of the sixties Corita Kent would encourage her art students to pay closer attention to the details. She said that one had to be a ‘microscope’ – “You have to look at the world in small pieces at a time. In doing so you see so much more.” I think we could all benefit from paying closer attention to our natural world.
I took a short walk through the veld the other day paying particular attention to the many species of wild veld grasses growing in just a small area. It was surprising to say the least. I selected a few of these as well as some dried flower heads and leaves growing amongst these grasses to take home and draw. The bird featured in the drawing is a ‘Laviantts cistecola’. One of the many beautiful grassland birds found in our area.