First syntaxonomic description of the vegetation of the Karstveld in Namibia wins Editors’ Award 2023

04 January 2024

Now that we have waved our goodbyes to 2023, it is time to reveal the paper that has been recognised by the Chief editors of the Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS) journal for the annual Editors’ Award.

On behalf of the Chief editors, we would like to congratulate the team of Ben J. Strohbach and Marianne M. Strohbach both affiliated with the Namibia University of Science and Technology and the National Botanical Research Institute at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in Windhoek, Namibia.

Their paper, titled “A first syntaxonomic description of the vegetation of the Karstveld in Namibia'' and published in late October, is also the Editors’ Choice Paper for the fourth quarter of 2023.

In the study, which is part of the journal’s special collection “African vegetation studies”, the researchers present the very first attempt to address the data deficiency for the composition and diversity of vegetation in the Namibian Karstveld: an area recognised for its high plant diversity, but also regarded as “a hotspot of various forms of degradation, including bush encroachment”.

With 889 species observed within ~25,000 km2, it becomes evident that the Karstveld is “extremely species-rich within the arid- to semi-arid Namibian context”. In fact, the authors drew a comparison between the area and the Khomas Hochland, where 914 species have been observed over ~31,000 km2 of a much greater variety of habitats along a steep rainfall gradient.

Furthermore, “[a]s this survey was only on a reconnaissance scale, the actual number of species occurring here could be vastly higher,” comment the authors of the awarded paper.

“Yet, only fractions of these ecosystems are formally protected within the Etosha National Park, putting a high importance on private nature reserves and conservancies within this area.”


List of the 2023 Editors’ Choice Papers:


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Photo: Typical views of the associations of the wet- and grasslands in the Namibian Karstveld. Example of the Nymphoides indica-Echinochloa pyramidalis community, relevé 4097, ca 50 km east of the study area. Credit: Ben J. Strohbach and Marianne M. Strohbach. DOI:

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