The vegetation of Eswatini, For a country with a land area of 17,364 km2, Swaziland is relatively rich in biodiversity with an inordinately large plant and animal diversity. The biodiversity resources of Swaziland have great cultural and economic significance. The presence of indigenous biological resources and their diversity provides a wide range of direct benefits because they generate products that are used for subsistence income and employment purposes. In addition, the diverse flora and fauna of Swaziland have a variety of recreational and aesthetic values. The Swazi culture is deeply dependent on biological diversity both for everyday life and for various traditional ceremonies practiced annually. Cultural and traditional use of biodiversity includes the reed dance, the Kingship ceremony, traditional attire, traditional hunting, and burial rituals. The fourth National report gives a detailed description of the status and trends of biodiversity. Since the compilation of the fourth national report, Swaziland has not yet done a comprehensive country assessment of her biodiversity and ecosystems. According to the country’s State of Environment Report, 2012, there is a decline and extinction of wild animal species and populations as well as indigenous plant species. Approximately 25% of each of the terrestrial ecosystem has been lost to some form of other land use. A total of 4,280 km2 of biodiversity-rich ecosystems have been converted to industrial timber plantations, sugarcane plantations, and urban areas. Aquatic water systems, in particular, are under threat from agricultural development as wetlands are drained for development (agriculture, roads, and settlements) or are negatively affected by changes within their catchment.
The underlying drivers of these pressures are the rapidly growing population with unsustainable patterns of consumption. The implications of biodiversity loss are particularly severe for a country like Swaziland, where the contribution of biodiversity to the economy is immeasurable and where traditions and culture are heavily dependent on a rich biodiversity base.