STATISTICS: South Africa

South Africa

7.6% —or about 9,203,000 hectares—of South Africa is forested.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, South Africa had no significant change or no reported in forest cover. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, South Africa lost 0.8% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: South Africa has some 1632 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 13.4% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 6.5% are threatened. South Africa is home to at least 23420 species of vascular plants. 5.3% of South Africa is protected under IUCN categories I-V.


South Africa: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)121,447,000
Total Forest Area (ha)9,203,000
Percent Forest Cover7.58%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)-
Primary Forest, % total forest-
Primary Forest, % total land-
Other wooded land (ha)21,409,000

South Africa : Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)68%
Subtropical (% forest area)32%
Temperate (% forest area)0%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

South Africa: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)--
Modified natural (ha | %)7,777,00084.5%
Semi-natural (ha | %)--
Production plantation (ha | %)1,426,00015.5%
Production plantation (ha | %)--

South Africa: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)9,203,000
Forest 2000 (ha)9,203,000
Forest 2005 (ha)9,203,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)-0.00%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Change in rate (%)#DIV/0!
Primary 1990 (ha)-
Primary 2000 (ha)-
Primary 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Other 1990 (ha)21,409,000
Other 2000 (ha)21,409,000
Other 2005 (ha)21,409,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)-0.00%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Change in rate (%)#DIV/0!
Other 1990 (ha)1,204,000
Other 2000 (ha)1,352,000
Other 2005 (ha)1,426,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)14,8001.23%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)14,8001.09%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)222,00018.44%
Change in rate (%)-10.95%
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)29,408,000
Other 2000 (ha)29,260,000
Other 2005 (ha)29,186,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(14,800)-0.05%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(14,800)-0.05%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(222,000)-0.75%
Change in rate (%)0.51%

South Africa: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)0
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)0
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)0.00%

South Africa: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)66.0%
Private (%)34.0%
Other (%)-
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)84.3%
Private (%)15.7%
Other (%)-
Designated functions of forest – primary function 2005
Production (%)15.5%
Protection (%)-
Conservation (%)10.3%
Social Services (%)-
Multiple Services (%)74.2%
None of Unknown (%)-

South Africa: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)-
Insects (ha)-
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)-

South Africa: Protected areas
Protected areas
Biosphere reserves, 2005
Wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites), 200517
World Heritage sites, 20045
Protected Areas: IUCN categories I-V, percent of total land5.3%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories Ia, Ib, and II, extent, percent of total land3.19%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories III, IV, and V, percent of total land, 20042.11%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories VI and other, percent of total land, 20040.00%

South Africa: Biodiversity - Wildlife
total species119
endemic species52
threatened species21
total species829
endemic species27
threatened species36
total species320
endemic species33
threatened species29
total species364
endemic species106
threatened species20
Wildlife diversity
total species1632
endemic species218
threatened species106

South Africa: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species649
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered1
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic0
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened75

South Africa: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)1,302
Below-ground biomass (M t)346
Dead wood (M t)231
Total (M t)1,878
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)651
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)173
Carbon in dead wood (M t)115
Carbon in litter (M t)-
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)17,491
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)250
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)17,741
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)3
Plant products 2005
Food (t)-
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$338,500,000
Wood fuel (US$)$1,500,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)-
Total value (US$)$340,000,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$37
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed321,000

South Africa : Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
South Africa: Environment
Environment - current issueslack of important arterial rivers or lakes requires extensive water conservation and control measures; growth in water usage outpacing supply; pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Natural hazardsprolonged droughts

South Africa: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 12.08%
permanent crops: 0.79%
other: 87.13% (2001)
Natural resourcesgold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas

South Africa: Economy
Economy - overview:South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to lower South Africa's high unemployment rate; and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalizing trade as means to increase job growth and household income.
GDP - per capita$11,900 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)4.5% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productscorn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 3.4%, industry: 31.6%, services: 65.1% (2005 est.)
Industries mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Economic aid - recipient$487.5 million (2000)
Debt - external$44.33 billion (30 June 2005 est.)
Population below poverty line (%)50% (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation (%)agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (1999 est.)

South Africa: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)44,344,136
Population growth rate (%) (2005)-0.31%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)36.4
Percent rural (2003)43.1%
Median age (years)total: 23.98 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)2.24 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

Largest Cities in South Africa

Cities and urban areas in South Africa with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
Cape TownSouth Africa26860003086600
DurbanSouth Africa23549002354900
JohannesburgSouth Africa16464005014000
PretoriaSouth Africa12282001514800
SowetoSouth Africa12211001221100
Port ElizabethSouth Africa8339001047600
PietermaritzburgSouth Africa420500420500
BenoniSouth Africa406400406400
VereenigingSouth Africa385600774200
BloemfonteinSouth Africa371200371200
NewcastleSouth Africa244300244300
East LondonSouth Africa236100549300
WelkomSouth Africa226100226100
BotshabeloSouth Africa197900197900
KimberleySouth Africa189500189500
WitbankSouth Africa185900185900
CarltonvilleSouth Africa182800182800
KlerksdorpSouth Africa152700152700
RustenburgSouth Africa116200116200
PotchefstroomSouth Africa113100113100
NelspruitSouth Africa105300105300
GeorgeSouth Africa104700104700
King Williams TownSouth Africa103700103700
NigelSouth Africa102000102000
PietersburgSouth Africa101600101600

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World’s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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