[Short Notes] NCERT class VII : Our Environment – Life in temperate Grasslands – Chapter 9 – Part 2
Grassland can be defined as a region where grasses form the dominant type of plant life. Grasslands make up almost a quarter of the total land surface.
The types of plants that grow here greatly depend on what the climate and soil are like.
World’s grasslands is divided into two broad categories based on climate.
~ Those that occur in the temperate region
~ Those that occur in the tropical regions.
The temperate grasslands of South Africa are called the velds. Velds are rolling plateaus with varying
heights ranging from 600 m to 1100 m. It is bound by the Drakensburg Mountains on the east.
To its west lies the Kalahari desert. On the northeastern part, “high velds” are located that attain a height of more than 1600 m, in some places. The tributaries of rivers Orange and Limpopo drain the region.
The velds have a mild climate due to the influence of the Indian Ocean. Winters are cold and dry. Temperatures
vary between 5°C and 10°C and July is the coldest month.
Summers are short and warm. Johannesburg records about 20°C temperature in the summer.
The velds receive rainfall mainly in the summer months from November to February.
This is mainly because of the warm ocean currents that wash the shores of the velds.
If the rainfall is scanty in the winter months from June till August, drought may occur.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The vegetation cover is sparse. Grasses dominate the landscape. Red grass grows in bush velds.
In the high velds acacia and maroola are seen to be growing.
The animals of the velds are primarily lions, leopards, cheetah and kudu.
Velds are known for cattle rearing and mining. The soils are not very fertile in the velds due to the presence of
discontinuous grasses exposing barren surface.
However where the land is fertile crops are grown.
The main crops are maize, wheat, barley, oats and potato.
Cash crops like tobacco, sugarcane and cotton are also grown.
Sheep rearing is the most important occupation of the people.
Sheep is bred mainly for wool and has given rise to the wool industry in the velds.
Merino sheep is a popular species and their wool is very warm.
Dairy farming is the next important occupation.
Cattle are reared in the warmer and wetter regions and the dairy products like butter, cheese are produced for both
domestic supply and also for export.
The velds have rich reserve of minerals.
Iron and steel industry has developed wherecoal and iron are present. Gold and diamond
mining are major occupations of people of this region.
Johannesburg is known for being
the gold capital of the world.
Kimberley is famous for its diamond mines.
Mining of diamond and gold in South Africa led to the establishment of trade ties with
Britain and gradually South Africa became a British Colony.
This mineral rich area has a well-developed network of transport.