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By FRANK FLOWERS, C.E., F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S.
The object of the paper was simply to endeavour to arouse an interest in the claims that Geography has for admission in the curricula of our Colleges and a place in the University Examinations; of course, in the sphere of Higher Education.
Educationalists might be of opinion that the paper embraced extravagant views and claims, but when the well-nigh total neglect that Geography in its pure form in class work has sustained is remembered, the almost hysterical announcements of Geographers are not to be wondered at. To quote from an article in the Star, commenting upon the fact that Geography is only compulsory in the School Elementary Cape University Examinations, that paper observes, “that is to say, the official opinion of the Chief Educational Institution in South Africa is that Geography is a study neither suitable nor necessary for boys above the age of 12."
The paper under review deals with the difficulties in framing an entirely satisfactory syllabus for Geographical study, owing, of course, to the manifold branches of the subject. It also suggests as a comprehensive definition or central theory for a working hypothesis that --Geography is the Science which details the Earth's dictation to Life.
The author quotes freely from prominent writers, such as Dr. Mill, Dr. Herbertson, Sir Clement R. Markham and others. Three are worthy of repetition.
Sir Clement points out that Geographical ignorance-speaking of Geography in its broadest sense-" is the cause of loss in commerce, of disaster in war, and blunders in administration. Until merchants, soldiers, seamen, engineers, lawyers, and above all, statesmen, are also Geographers, these evils will continue." Dr. Herbertson remarks : Surely it is only common sense to see that it is properly studied by those who will direct great enterprise. When its educational and practical value are both taken into account, only ignorance or inertia or the influence of vested interests can explain its omission from the higher classes of schools, or from the Universities.'' While Dr. Mill directs attention to the fact that the glory of Geography as a science, its fascination as a study, and value in practical affairs arise from the recognition of the unifying influence of surface reliefs in controlling the incident of every mobile distribution of the Earth's surface; and that the grand problem of all must be the demonstration and quantitative proof of the control exercised by the forms of the Earth's crust upon the distribution of everything which is free to move or be moved ; that is to say, the physical conditions of environment to organise response.
After discussing Geographical education in the Transvaal, the writer closes his paper by expressing a hope that Geography in some co-ordinated form will soon find a place in our educational institutions, which becomes a positive necessity if the dream for South Africa's future is to be realised, and the rising generation, with Mr. Julius Jeppe, is to “ look forward to a dawn of prosperity such as South Africa has never seen, a prosperity which will distribute its beneficial effects in ever-widening circle to the utmost bounds of civilisation.”
SOUTH AFRICA WHICH ARE DUE TO THE PRE-
By R. MARLOTH, PH.D., M.A.
In tracing the relations between the climate of a country and its vegetation, it is often thought sufficient to discuss the temperature, i.e., the mean for the year or the months with the extremes of heat and cold, and the rainfall, viz., its total amount and the distribution over the different seasons. One calls the climate of Eastern South Africa the reverse of that of the West simply because their rainy seasons are opposite to each other.
It is, consequently, often overlooked, that climate with regard to vegetation includes several other factors, which have a considerable influence on the structure and aspect of plants, and that some of these are capable of modifying the effect of the two principal constituents of the climate to a large extent. One of these important factors is the relative humidity of the air, which does not necessarily go parallel to the rainfall. Further, the annual and daily amount of sunshine, for light is as necessary to the living plant as heat and water. One of the reasons why many Cape plants do not thrive in English conservatories is the curtailing of the supply of light to which they are accustomed.
Quite as important, however, as these factors, is the wind, if it does not even exceed their influence considerably.
The various ways in which the wind affects the vegetation of South Africa may be grouped under three heads :
kinds of wind. Everybody is familiar with the shorn shrubs and dwarf trees along the seashore. The wind, often charged with salt spray or sand, destroys every leaf or twig, which projects above the sheltering rocks, and gives a slanting face to the top of the shrubs on the windward side. On the shores of False Bay, and even a mile or two inland, such wedge-shaped bushes are very common; but, of course, also everywhere else along the coast right up to Algoa Bay and East London. Some of them are as sharply defined as if they had been kept constantly under the gardener's scissors.
In other cases the pressure of the wind has forced the trees over to leeward. One may see whole rows of pines or eucalypts at Salt River and other equally windy places, which are leaning over to a considerable extent. Even groves of silver trees exhibit occasionally the same phenomenon, and in the coastbelt near East London stand thousands of dwarfed mimosa trees leaning over in the same direction, with a crown that is as flat as a table, all branches having been shorn down to the same plane by the sea wind.
The exhausting and destructive effect, which strong winds exert on the leaves of plants, is well seen after a South-East storm. The oaks and other soft-leaved plants look as if they had been scorched on the weather side. This is due to the enormous increase in the transpiration of the leaves, produced by the air which rushes past their surface with great velocity. As the supply of water from the roots cannot replace the loss with sufficient speed, the cells of the leaves are killed and the leaves dry up. Many introduced shrubs and trees suffer in a similar way, and many kinds cannot be reared in exposed situations, as e.g., chestnuts and horse-chestnuts, but do thrive in sheltered nooks and valleys.
Quite different is the appearance of the indigenous trees of the Cape, even after the severest storm. While oaks are scorched, and even eucalypts and pepper trees (Schinus molle) seriously damaged, the olives and proteas show no sign of injury to their foliage. Much less do this the hundreds of smaller shrubs and shrublets, which form the plant covering of the South-Western districts. The explanation is simple. Their leaves are of tough and leathery texture, they are trained to such extreme conditions ; in fact, the wind has, to some extent at least, been instrumental in gradually producing them by a kind of natural selection. Almost all shrubby plants of the SouthWestern districts possess such leathery leaves, hence this part of South Africa is designated by ecologists as one of the typical regions of sclerophyllous plants.
It must not be thought that the wind is the only cause of this special feature in our vegetation, but it has certainly had a considerable share in its production.
The influence of this action of the wind is even more conspicuous in other cases. In localities, which are regularly exposed to strong winds from the same direction, one finds the trees often without branches on the weather side. Near Cape Town there are many pines on the slopes of the Devil's Peak with a perfectly straight and vertical stem, but bare on the Southern and South-Eastern sides. This flagstaff-like appearance is not caused by the removal of the branches on this side, but by the destructive effect, which the wind has on the soft tissue of the buds in spring. Only the terminal shoot and those on the leeward side are allowed to develop, while the others are destroyed as soon as they show themselves.
While the effects of wind described so far are not specifically South African, as many other countries exhibit the same or similar phenomena, there is one feature of the wind that prevails over a large part of South Africa during the summer months, which has no where else such a preponderating influence on the vegetation. That is the cloud covering of many of our mountains which generally accompanies the South and South-East winds and which supplies a considerable amount of moisture to the vegetation of the mountains during the season, which is otherwise dry. It is this property of the South-East wind which must be looked upon as one of the chief agents in the delimitation of the area or areas of that famous vegetation of the