The Potential of Cephalophyllum inaequale (L. Bolus) for the Restoration of Degraded Arid Landscapes in Namaqualand, South Africa



The potential of Cephalophyllum inaequale was investigated for use in initiating ecosystem restoration in degraded landscapes of Namaqualand, South Africa. Cephalophyllum inaequale, a perennial shrub, is a member of the succulent Mesembryanthemaceae family, typical of the Succulent Karoo Biome and in particular of the Namaqualand area. A bioclimatic envelope was modeled to establish the area in which this species might feasibly be used. The regional bioclimatic potential for C. inaequale proved to be extensive, covering approximately 17,500 km2. An examination of the functional role of C. inaequale showed it to facilitate early seedling survival in this community. A nearest-neighbor study found no evidence of interspecific competition between C. inaequale and its dominant co-occurring species, possibly due to vertical stratification of rooting structures. Cephalophyllum inaequale significantly reduced wind speed and soil erosion. Experiments to test the feasibility of propagating, reintroducing, and establishing this species showed that it easily germinates from seed, and transplanted cuttings have a high survival rate. This study demonstrates that C. inaequale has potential for use in initiating the restoration of degraded lands in South Africa.