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Important Plant Areas of South Africa

Number of IPAs: Currently being identified.

Area: 1.2 million km2

View across mountainous landscape with blue sky

South Africa is currently in the process of identifying and prioritizing Important Plants Areas across the country that require conservation intervention.


South Africa is a picturesque country, with unique landscapes and extraordinary biodiversity expanding over a surface area of 1.2 million km2Deeply rooted in culture, tradition, and history, the Southernmost country in Africa is uniquely positioned. Flanked between the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the right, its coastline expands over 3000 km from the border of Namibia on the Northwestern side of the country to Mozambique on the Eastern side.


The unique climate, geography, and topography of the country, coupled with the exceptional biodiversity housed within its borders, makes South Africa, one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries. South Africa is home to 3 biodiversity hotspots (the Cape Floristic Region, Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany center of endemism, and the Succulent Karoo biome) and an array of ecosystems.

The country is recognized globally for its high levels of species richness and endemism, with nearly 7% of the world’s plant species, 5% of mammal species, 7% of bird species, and 4% of reptile species. 2% of amphibian species, 1% of freshwater fish species, 25% of cephalopod species, 13% of arachnid species, and 5% of butterfly species occurring within its borders.

Plant Species

South Africa has been listed among the ten countries internationally, with the highest concentration of plant species. Approximately 20,401 plant species have been documented in the country, with 25% listed as taxa of conservation concern.

With such an incredible array of botanical species, South Africa was determined to prioritize plant conservation efforts through the implementation of South Africa’s National Plant Conservation Strategy which aligns with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Important Resource

Many local communities rely heavily on the country’s botanical wealth for their socio-economic well-being, through tangible benefits such as food, medicine, fuel, income, and shelter. The agricultural sector contributes greatly to the country’s economy, with the livelihoods and well-being of more than 70% of rural communities being contingent on crop farming systems. The country’s lively tourism sector is also dependent on key attractions like the Cape floristic region to bring in revenue to the country.

In order to maintain the current plant populations and ensure that future generations are able to benefit from these valuable life-sustaining resources, South Africa remains committed to finding sustainable solutions to preserve the country’s botanical heritage in a manner that still benefits all South Africans.

Further information

Geography and Climate of South Africa

Information article

National Biodiversity Assessment 2018: The status of South Africa’s ecosystems and biodiversity. Synthesis Report.