The SAEON Arid Lands Node conducts observations on the ecological effects of Global Change and Land Use Changes across the hyper-arid to semi-arid western half of South Africa, where mean annual precipitation is 45-450 mm, and potential evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation 5-50 fold.

The area stretches between latitude 25-33oS and longitude 16.5-26oE across 500,000 km2, encompassing the Northern Cape and parts of the North-West-, Free State-, Eastern Cape- and Western Cape provinces.

It includes 5 biomes, namely Desert, Succulent Karoo, Nama Karoo, Arid Savanna, and Karoo Escarpment Grassland. Habitats include plains, rocky outcrops, escarpment mountains, sand dunes, ephemeral rivers, endorheic pans, and perennial rivers, including the Lower Vaal and Lower Orange Rivers. SAEON manages several sites and conducts projects at different locations in this area.