Are pine plantations 'inhospitable seas' around remnant native habitat within South-western Cape forestry areas?
Some areas of forestry estates, including unplantable ones, may be zoned and managed for nature conservation. This paper is an analysis of the results of studies of plants, birds and small mammals at Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, to determine whether pine plantations are 'inhospitable' to ecological and demographic processes required for the persistence of these biota in native habitat 'islands' within forestry areas. The present study indicates that pine plantations are not unqualified 'inhospitable seas'. However, the human- assisted dominance of the pines over the indigenous vegetation eliminates many species of the original habitat and reduces the numbers, or the frequency of occurrence, of the remaining species. There were significantly fewer vertebrate-pollinated, indigenous, plant species in the plantation sample than in the mountain fynbos one, and significantly more vertebrate- dispersed, native, plant species. Vertebrate pollinators were infrequently recorded in, or absent from, mature pine plantations. These factors are likely to affect some ecological and demographic processes in the pine plantations, such as vertebrate-mediated pollination, and perhaps the continuity of these processes between large areas of original habitat and indigenous habitat patches in the forestry area. Therefore we suggest that areas of fynbos and riparian forest surrounded by plantations should be considered as 'islands' in an 'inhospitable sea' when considering the zonation and management of indigenous habitat for conservation on forestry estates.