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Masters Degrees (Geography)

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    Examining the socio-economic impacts of water service delivery in the Rookdale rural community of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2023) Zwane, Mthokozisi Njabulo.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Sewell, Shenelle Janalyn.
    Two abstracts available in PDF.
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    Institutional arrangements in natural resource management: investigating the sale and leaseback model in the midlands, Kwazulu Natal.
    (2023) Mkhize, Nonduduzo.; Nel, Adrian.
    Land reform has been an issue of contention in South Africa. Institutions and organisations have devised a variety of land claim settlement models that provide mutual benefits for claimant communities as well as private owners. With the increasing number of land claims in the commercial forestry and agriculture industries after the implementation of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994, the forestry sector developed a land claim settlement model called the sale and leaseback. The sale and leaseback model (SALB) is an institutional arrangement that creates partnerships between land claimant communities and Mondi. the model provides benefits the following benefits to claimant communities, (a) rent and stumpage, (b) capacity building, (c) bursary scheme, (d) employment opportunities, (e) corporate social investment (CSI), and (f) enterprise development. Studies have shown that while partnerships were hoped to be a bridge between claimant communities and private forestry companies, it has not been the case. The study is important because, although there is a plethora of literature on institutional arrangements between government and communities as well as between private companies and communities, there are few case studies presented about the complexities of the relationships that exist between the actors. Studies specific to comanagement arrangements in the forestry industry lacks practical case studies, and the research that exists does not examine the experiences of private forestry companies working with communities (claimant and non-claimant) and this study aims to fill the gap in this field. The study uses qualitative data collection techniques such as open-ended questionnaires and observations to ascertain the experiences of Trusts, board members of community-owned contracting and Mondi with the sale and leaseback model. The study evaluates the SALB and its impact on claimants and Mondi from a political ecology perspective as well as a co-management analysis framework. Central themes analysed in co-management are (1) representation which examines the scope of actors involved in co-management, (2) power sharing which analyses the extent of power sharing in a co-management arrangement, and (3) empowerment which examines the extent to which communities are dependent on the company they work with, and the extent to which their livelihoods are exposed to unnecessary risk. The study shows that while claimant communities receive benefits outlined in the lease agreements, they are not completely satisfied with them. Trustees and board members feel stagnant as they have not advanced to the next stages in their contracting companies because of the ambiguity and lack of assessment tool of the business development aspect of the lease agreements. Mondi has experienced challenges in the partnerships stemming from the claimants’ lack of business acumen, financial resources and because claimant communities have become highly dependent on the company for empowerment and development. These factors contribute to the unequal power dynamics between Mondi and claimant communities. Power is not static, it shifts from actor to actor depending on the situation; although partnership arrangements account for potential power struggles, there is a lack of a mechanism to address them. Since Mondi acts as a mentor to claimants, it automatically makes it the stronger actor in the partnership. Power is generally shared equally between members in community entities. There is also an underlying invisible power prevalent in the interactions between Mondi and Trusts, which is a result of previous injustices. The abovementioned factors therefore highlight the importance of the claimants’ understanding of the partnership agreements, expectations, roles, and deliverables of each party. My argument nuances this literature to show that company-community partnerships are not true partnerships because, (a) claimant communities are disempowered, (b) lack financial resources, business acumen, and negotiating power, and (c) unequal power relations where collaborations are characterised by dependency.
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    Exploring the role of service delivery and its impact on the functionalities of women in Njane and Ntshaseni communities of the Ubuhlebezwe Local Municipality (ULM) in KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2022) Ngubo, Wandile Noxolo.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Sewell, Shenelle Janalyn.
    Service delivery in most South African rural areas is neither efficiently nor equitably distributed. This makes residents receive poor quality services which are often unavailable. Feminist geography is concerned, among other things, with how gender and geography determine the welfare of communities. This study looked at service delivery from a geographical dimension of rurality and remoteness and connected this to gender-based service perceptions. The first paper looked at service delivery ratings of men and women in two rural communities in the same municipality-the Ubuhlebezwe Local Municipality (ULM) in KwaZulu-Natal. These communities are remote in terms of distance from major urban centres. The study utilised a quantitative research approach, with a sample of 200 residents from Njane and Ntshaseni. The study was designed as a comparative descriptive study. The first objective of the study was to assess men and women's ratings on the provision of such services as road, healthcare, education, water and sanitation, and electricity. The second objective was to compare the relationship between water and energy services delivery and women's domestic workload (WDW) in the two communities. The second paper used a sample of 127 and used a descriptive approach to analyse data on water and sanitation and electricity and used secondary data that was collected in previous studies on the two communities and analysed this on SPSS and Microsoft Excel. The research findings have revealed that women rate service delivery quality and availability very lowly compared to men. Women’s low ratings revealed that service delivery quality and availability affected them differently from men, with regards to healthcare, water and sanitation, and electricity services. The research findings have also revealed that women are heavily burdened by lack of water and electricity in Njane and Ntshaseni communities, leading to increased domestic workloads. The study recommends a nexus of geography and gender in dealing with service delivery challenges. Local governments need to provide gender-sensitive service delivery in remote communities. This approach would reduce geography and gender service delivery disparities, and relieve poor rural women from back-breaking domestic labour.
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    Predicting inter-seasonal aboveground grass biomass using Sentinel-2 MSI and machine learning in the Umngeni catchment, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2023) Vawda, Mohamed Ismail.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Mutanga, Onisimo.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Mapping rainfall variability in South Africa’s commercial forest regions using competent ensemble statistical interpolation techniques.
    (2023) Ramjeawon, Sarisha Rajen.; Peerbhay, Kabir Yunus.; Lottering, Romano Trent.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Examining socio-ecological changes associated with coal mining on adjacent communities in KwaSomkhele, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2022) Gwala, Oscar Zwelithini.; Nel, Adrian.
    Debates about the distribution of mining industry benefits, relative to the costs they impose on proximate communities occur not only in South Africa but worldwide. Is coal mining an essential tool for economic growth, or is it as some put it a curse for the future generation? Are community members benefiting adequately from the mining industry? Or do the state and foreign companies that invest in African mining projects benefit disproportionately from the externalities they impose? It is projected that South Africa has the sixth-largest coal reserves in the world, with close to 30 408 million tons of reserves. This thesis investigates the political ecology of the mine, and issues, costs and socio-ecological changes imposed by the Somkhele anthracite mine, owned by Tendele as a subsidiary to Petmin, in, KwaMpukunyoni, KwaZulu- Natal. A ‘job creation discourse’ is presented by the mine concerning its role as a development actor and the jobs it creates for locals. However, local and international civil society have raised concerns about the impact of the mine and the distribution of its benefits, particularly the expansion of the mine over an area of 222km2 adjacent to a critical conservation area; the Hluhluwe-uMfolozi national park. This thesis details anticipated, and actual social, economic, and environmental changes imposed by the mine for proximate residents, based on key informant interviews and household surveys in five different communities around the mine. Individual households are selected as the primary sample unit between five different communities Emachibini, KwaSomkhele, eDubelenkunzi, KwaMyeki and Ophondweni. The researcher purposively samples 20-25 households per village for the questionnaire surveys, therefore, having a sample size of approximately 80-100. Findings indicate a discrepancy between a Job discourse on how the Mpukunyoni community benefits, and how proximate villages experience the reality on the ground and highlight a range of risks and externalities related to pollution and environmental degradation borne by the communities. The thesis then goes on to describe the subjectivity of the mining-affected communities as environmental subjects in Mpukunyoni. It argues that understanding the experience and subjectivity of mining-affected communities is important in the broader mining geography of Kwazulu-Natal and South Africa
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    The impacts of drought on the rural communities of Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2022) Maniram, Annika.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Sewell, Shenelle Janalyn.
    Drought is viewed as an important feature of climate change that results in extended periods of dryness, increasing temperatures and heatwaves. Additionally, drought is an extreme event in the hydrological cycle, and it is considered to be one of the most detrimental natural disasters occurring around the world. With the increasing impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities, the seriousness and frequency of drought is expected to rise in the upcoming decades. Furthermore, a drought is defined as a period of below-average precipitation which results in drier than normal conditions. Globally, droughts are viewed as one of the most distressing natural disasters, which affects food production, water resources, biodiversity and livelihoods. Approximately, 1.5 billion people have been directly impacted by drought this century, whilst every year an estimated 55 million people are affected around the world (Harvey, 2021 & WHO, 2021). Droughts are a key feature of South African climatic conditions, because of its topography, location and below average rainfall. In 2015/2016, South Africa had experienced one of the worst droughts in 30 years because of the extreme weather system, El Nino. The South African drought had resulted in threatened livelihoods, water shortages, loss of agricultural production and increased food prices. Additionally, drought is one of the most difficult challenges affecting developing countries, with the most detrimental effects being felt by rural communities and subsistence farmers, since they mainly rely on rain-fed agriculture. The main aim of this study is to determine the impacts of drought on the rural communities of Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The objectives for this study are to determine the socio-economic impacts of drought, to examine the perceived seriousness and frequency of drought and to investigate the adaptation strategies of drought. This research study also focuses on a theoretical framework. It discusses the sustainable livelihoods approach and the drought perception theory. The SLA assumes that all individuals have assets and abilities that can improve their livelihoods, whilst the drought perception theory discusses how farmers perceive drought based on four elements. The data obtained for this research study is archival data that was collected in June 2019 till August 2019 at the Msinga Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. However, this research project was conducted over a period of three years during 2020 – 2022. The data that was used for this project was collected using a quantitative research method. Additionally, the collection of data was conducted using a purposive sampling method, which is utilised when the researcher uses their own judgement to choose a group of participants that requires the people with the most characteristics based on their relevance to the research study. From the Msinga region – 180 respondents were chosen. Furthermore, the tools that were used in this study included a questionnaire which provided a deeper understanding of the community dynamics. Questionnaires are a research tool that consists of a series of questions that aim to collect data from a respondent. Furthermore, to analyse the data that was collected, a programme called Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used. Data from the completed questionnaires were entered onto the SPSS programme. The demographic results have indicated that majority of residents within the Msinga Municipality were female, with a large portion of the surveyed population being single. The age distribution was disproportionate, with the older generation being the majority and the working-class population being the minority. The findings also showed a high level of uneducated residents, with majority of the population being unemployed and relying on social grants. The socio-economic impacts of droughts were also discussed, with the results showing high levels of malnutrition, food insecurity, limited food choices, crop failure, unemployment and poverty. The findings also presented adaptation and mitigation measures for dealing with drought, as well as strategies based on indigenous knowledge. The results also showed the different types of water that respondents used for irrigational purposes, as well as the perceived seriousness and frequency of droughts. Additionally, the results presented the percentages of respondents that received agricultural training and assistance from the government during a drought. It also discussed early warning systems and drought management programmes within the area. This project also presents some recommendations based on the results in the study. These included; women empowerment, environmental education, sustainable agricultural practices and governmental involvement and interventions.
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    The social geographies of school-related gender-based violence on children’s school journeys in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2022) Khumalo, Ayanda Cynthia.; Ngidi, Ndumiso Daluxolo.; Essack, Zaynab.
    This study examined the social geographies of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) on children’s journeys to and from school (hereafter, school journeys). In particular, the study explored the spaces and places identified by primary school children as the social geographies of SRGBV on their school journeys. Moreover, the study investigated how primary school children negotiated their spatial safety when navigating their school journeys. Twenty primary schoolchildren, aged between 10-12 years and attending Grades 5-7, were purposively recruited from one resource-poor rural community in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, in South Africa (SA). The study recruited only primary schoolchildren who walked without adult supervision for at least five kilometres to and from school. Data was generated using participatory visual methodologies, which involved the use of photovoice and participatory mapping. These visual data were supplemented by four focus group discussions (FGD). Data analysis occurred in two layers. The first layer involved the analysis of visual artefacts and the explanations provided by the participants during the FGD. The second layer involved thematic and visual data analysis of all the data generated. Conceptually, the study was guided by both the feminist geographies and the broadly conceived children’s geographies frames of thinking. Feminist geographies provided a lens for understanding how gender shaped primary school children’s understandings and experiences of SRGBV on their school journey. On the other hand, children’s geographies provided a frame for understanding the sociocultural meanings children attached to their engagement with both their social geographies and the people they interacted with across space/place. Theoretically, the analysis was informed by the defensible space theory, which analysed how and why certain social geographies exposed primary school children to gender-based violence (GBV). Data analysis revealed a plethora of social geographies that rendered participants vulnerable to GBV on their school journeys. These geographies included dense bushes, taverns, and other public and economic spaces such as tuckshops in and around the community. Moreover, since these children walked to school without adult supervision, they reported a sense of fear and terror in navigating unsafe social geographies in their community. Finally, while they feared walking to school, participants demonstrated agency in negotiating their spatial safety by drawing from the available community and interpersonal resources. The use of participatory visual methods offered a unique opportunity to see how primary school children constructed and understood the social geographies of their school journeys, and how in these spaces, forms of GBV occurred.
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    Pietermaritzburg: in search of a local economic development strategy.
    (1994) Sapsford, Peter.; McCarthy, Jeffrey J.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    The application of saltmarsh foraminifera in the reconstruction of sea level along the southern African coastline.
    (2022) Pillay, Tristan Reece.; Hill, Jemma May.; Pretorius, Lauren.
    Accelerations in global sea-level rise are a major concern for coastal areas, but the geographical expression of sea-level variability is poorly constrained, especially in data-scarce far-field locations. Southern Africa is a case in point, where the tide gauge record is limited, and longterm sea level data points are spatially and temporally discontinuous. One technique which has shown promise for producing continuous sea-level records, is the application of intertidal saltmarsh foraminifera, which are widely used as a robust, high precision sea-level proxy in temperate regions. This research uses saltmarsh foraminifera from the Kromme Estuary, to investigate late Holocene sea level on the southern coastline of South Africa. The first paper presents a review of recent sea-level research from southern Africa, with a focus on the Common Era (past 2000 years), to contextualize the second, data-based paper from the Kromme Estuary. Modern saltmarsh foraminifera were sampled across intertidal zone, to establish vertical zonation of foraminiferal assemblages relative to the tidal frame, and ultimately used to develop a transfer function for quantitative sea-level reconstruction. Subsurface marsh sediment was surveyed and used to inform coring locations. The master sediment core was processed for sedimentological and foraminiferal analysis. Six samples of picked plant macrofossils were sent for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon dating, and used to produce a Bayesian age-depth model. The Kromme record extends ~1 000 cal yrs with a hiatus observed from ~400 - 600 cal yrs BP. Calcareous species dominate the basal part of the record, preventing quantitative sea-level reconstruction, however, species assemblages and sedimentology data consisting of low organic content and medium to coarse sand occurring from ~340 cal yrs BP to present, suggest lower than present sea level. Agglutinated species from the upper portion of the core with associated high organic matter and medium sand from ~180 cal yrs BP were used to reconstruct sea level. The quantitative reconstructions spans ~200 years, with the lowest sea-level estimated at 180 cal yrs BP which broadly coincides with the Little Ice Age (~650 - 100 cal yrs BP) and Maunder Minimum (~305 - 235 cal yrs BP), followed by rising sea level till present day level. The sea-level reconstruction from the Kromme Estaury is supported by previously published sea-level studies in southern Africa and provides a detailed reconstruction of sea level that can inform regional sea-level trends, contributing to coastal planning, and provides an opportunity to explore the possible anthropogenic effect on sea-level variability.
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    Modelling future land-use change and assessing resultant streamflow responses: a case study of two diverse Southern African catchments.
    (2022) Moodley, Kimara.; Toucher, Michele Lynn.; Lottering, Romano Trent.
    Land-use and land cover (LULC) is a crucial constitute of the terrestrial ecosystem, impacting on numerous fundamental processes and characteristics such as land productivity, geomorphological process and the hydrological cycle. Assessing the hydrological impacts of land-use and land cover changes (LULCCs) has become one of many challenges in hydrological research. LULCCs modify hydrological processes such as evapotranspiration, infiltration and interception, consequently impacting on the hydrological regimes of a catchment. Understanding the implications of LULCCs on catchment hydrology is therefore fundamental for effective water resource planning and management, and land-use planning. Globally, numerous studies have documented the impacts of LULCCs on catchment hydrology, however in Southern Africa there exists a knowledge gap on the impacts of LULCCs on catchment hydrology, specifically future land-use and land cover change (LULCC). Therefore, the aim of this study was to simulate potential future land-use within two diverse South African catchments using an appropriate land-use change model and thereafter to assess streamflow responses to these future land-use scenarios using the ACRU hydrological model. Future land-use was simulated utilizing the Cellular Automata Markov (CA-Markov) model. The CA-Markov model is a hybrid land-use change model that integrates Markov chain, CA, Multi-Objective Land Allocation (MOLA) and Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) concepts. CA-Markov simulated future land-use through the creation of conditional probability and transition probability matrices, suitability images and the utilization of a CA contiguity filter and socio-economic and biophysical drivers of LULCC. The results illustrated that within both catchments, increasing growth of anthropogenically driven LULC classes such as urban, agroforestry and agrarian areas inevitability contribute to the fragmentation, modification and deterioration of natural land-cover types. The model’s reliability and capability was assessed by running a validation, which was conducted by simulating changes between t1 (1990) and t2 (2013/14) to predict for t3 (2018). The predicted map produced for 2018 was then compared against the actual 2018 reclassified map, which served as a reference map. The obtained kappa values (Kstandard, Klocation and Kno) achieved during the validation were all above 80%, thus indicating the model’s reliability and capability in successfully predicting future LULC in the study sites. The assessment of future LULCC impacts on streamflow responses was achieved by utilizing the ACRU model. Historical and future scenarios of land-use were utilized as inputs into a preexisting ACRU model where all input parameters (e.g. climate, soils) remained constant with only changes made to the land cover parameters and area occupied by each land cover. The results illustrated that due to anthropogenic induced LULCC, the hydrological regime within the uMngeni catchment has been altered when compared to the baseline hydrological regime. Patterns of low (1:10 driest year) and high (1:10 wettest year) flows have changed significantly between the baseline and 1990. However, between 1990 and the future hydrological regime (2030 LU scenario) only a slight amplification of these impacts was evident. Mean annual streamflow increases and decreases were present in majority of Water Management Units (WMU’s), however, the Table Mountain, Pietermaritzburg, and Henley WMU’s illustrated greater increases in mean annual accumulated streamflows compared to other WMU’s while the New Hanover New Hanover and Karkloof WMU’s illustrated the greatest decreases in mean annual accumulated streamflows. Furthermore, results indicated that streamflow responses significantly increase in the presence of urban land-use. The impacts become evident as streamflows cascade through the catchment. The results also illustrated that streamflow responses were due to the nature of LULCC, viz urban land-use, commercial forestry, and agriculture combined with the location and extent of LULCCs. These results are beneficial for the implementation of proactive and sustainable water resource planning and land-use planning. Moreover, considering the simulated streamflow responses in relation to varying land-use scenarios, it is essential that water resource planning incorporate land-use location, nature and scale from not only the perspective of land-use effects, but also on hydrological responses in a catchment. Given the interdependence between streamflow responses and changes in land-use, water resource and land-use planning should not occur in silos. Overall, this study illustrated the importance of understanding and assessing land-use and water interactions in a water stressed region such as South Africa. Keywords: land-use and land cover changes, hybrid land-use change model, streamflow responses, land-use and water interactions, sustainable water resource planning.
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    Vulnerability to child marriage: perspectives of adolescent girls from a resource-poor rural community in Manicaland, Zimbabwe.
    (2022) Dube, Tsitsi.; Ngidi, Ndumiso Daluxolo.
    This study examined the vulnerability of rural adolescent girls to child marriage. In particular, the research explored how twenty adolescent girls who were conveniently recruited from a resource-poor rural community in the Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe understood and communicated their vulnerability to child marriage. The adolescent girls who participated in this study emerged from a resource-poor context where they were oppressed by poverty, heteropatriarchy, and prevailing gender norms characterized by the sociocultural and economic ecologies of Manicaland. The study used focus group discussions and in-depth interviews to gain insight into the adolescent girls` understandings of their vulnerability to child marriage. Analysis in the study was informed by two theories. First, feminist theories provided a framework for understanding how gender shaped the lives of rural adolescent girls, and in turn, rendered them socially inferior and susceptible to the experience of child marriage. Second, the social norms theory provided a framework for understating how prevailing social and cultural norms endangered marginalised and exposed adolescent girls to perilous practices such as child marriage. The data generated in the study were analysed using a thematic approach. Findings revealed that the adolescent girls who participated in this study were vulnerable to child marriage. They understood their vulnerability to child marriage in several ways that were tied to their gender identities, their inferior social positions as girls, enduring household and community poverty, perilous gender norms and inequality, heteropatriarchy, and religious and cultural norms. Within this context, the participants reported that their agency to resist child marriage was limited. The findings have implications for ameliorative programming and interventions that are focused on giving adolescent girls safe spaces and the voice to challenge gender, sociocultural, and the heteropatriarchy that rendered them vulnerable to child marriage.
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    Mapping drought stress in commercial eucalyptus forest plantations using remotely sensed techniques in Southern Africa.
    (2021) Lubanyana, Andile Njabulo Blessing.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Peerbhay, Kabir Yunus.
    Drought is one of the least understood and hazardous natural disasters that leave many parts of the world devastated. To improve understanding and detection of drought onset, remote sensing technology is required to map drought affected areas as it covers large geographical areas. The study aimed to evaluate the utility of a cost-effective Landsat 8 imagery in mapping the spatial extent of drought prone Eucalyptus dunnii plantations. The first objective was to compare the utility of Landsat spectra with a combination of vegetation indices to detect drought affected plantations using the Stochastic gradient boosting algorithm. The test datasets showed that using Landsat 8 spectra only produced an overall accuracy of 74.70% and a kappa value of 0.59. The integration of Landsat 8 spectra with vegetation indices produced an overall accuracy of 83.13% and a kappa of 0.76. The second objective of this study was to do a trend analysis of vegetation health during drought. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values fluctuated over the years where 2013 had the highest value of 0.68 and 2015 the lowest NDVI of 0.55 and the normalized difference water index (NDWI) had the lowest value in 2015. Most indices showed a similar trend where 2013 had the highest index value and 2015 the lowest. The third objective was to do a trend analysis of rainfall and temperature during drought. The rainfall trend analysis from 2013 to 2017 indicated that the month of February 2017 received the highest rainfall of 154 mm. In addition, July of 2016 received the highest rainfall compared to 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with rainfalls of 6.4 mm, 0.6 mm, 28 mm, and 1 mm, respectively. The temperature trend analysis from 2013 to 2017 indicated that December 2015 had the highest temperature of 28 ° C compared to December of 2013 2014, 2016 and 2017 with temperatures of 24°C, 25°C, 27°C, 24°C, respectively. Furthermore, it was also noted that June 2017 had the highest temperature of 23°C while June 2015 had the lowest at 20°C. The fourth objective of this study was to compare the utility of topographical variables with a combination of Landsat vegetation indices to detect drought affected plantations using the One class support vector machine algorithm. The multiclass support vector machine using Landsat vegetation indices and topographical variables produced an overall accuracy of 73.86% and a kappa value of 0.71 with user’s and producer’s accuracies ranging between 61% to 69% for drought damaged trees, while for healthy trees ranged from 84% to 90%. The one class support vector machine using Landsat vegetation indices and topographical variables produced an overall accuracy of 82.35% and a kappa value of 0.73. The one class support vector machine produced the highest overall accuracy compared to the multiclass SVM and stochastic gradient boosting algorithm. The use of topographical variables further improved the accuracies compared to the combination of Landsat spectra with vegetation indices.
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    Pietermaritzburg residential architecture: its evolution through time and space - a Scottsville case study.
    (1994) Fenn, Deborah Gail.; McCarthy, Jeffrey J.; Kearney, Brian.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Inter-relationships of poverty and environmental degradation in South African black communities.
    (1994) Harvett, Craig Michael.; Slade, D. Graeme B.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Commercial forest species discrimination and mapping using image texture computed from WorldView-2 pan sharpened imagery in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2021) Sibiya, Bongokuhle S’phesihle.; Lottering, Romano Trent.; Odindi, John Odhiambo.
    Forest species discrimination is vital for precise and dependable information, essential for commercial forest management and monitoring. Recently, the adoption of remote sensing approaches has become an important source of information in commercial forest management. However, previous studies have utilized spectral data or vegetation indices to detect and map commercial forest species, with less focus on the spatial elements. Therefore, this study using image texture aims to discriminate commercial forest plantations (i.e. A. mearnsii, E. dunnii, E. grandis and P. patula) computed from a 0.5m WorldView-2 pan-sharpened image in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa. The first objective of the study was to discriminate commercial forest species using image texture computed from a 0.5m WorldView-2 pan-sharpened image and the Partial Least Squares Discriminate Analysis (PLS-DA) algorithm. The results indicated that the image texture model (overall accuracy (OA) = 77%, kappa = 0.69) outperformed both the vegetation indices model (OA = 69%, kappa = 0.59) and raw spectral bands model (OA = 64%, kappa = 0.52). The most successful texture parameters selected by PLS-DA were mean, correlation, and homogeneity, which were primarily computed from the red-edge, NIR1 and NIR2 bands. Lastly, the 7x7 moving window was commonly selected by the PLS-DA model when compared to the 3x3 and 5x5 moving windows. The second objective of the study was to explore the utility of texture combinations computed from a fused 0.5m WorldView-2 image in discriminating commercial forest species in conjunction with the PLS-DA and Sparse Partial Least Squares Discriminate Analysis (SPLS-DA) algorithm. The accuracies achieved using SPLS-DA model, which performed variable selection and dimension reduction simultaneously yielded an overall accuracy of 86%. In contrast, the PLS-DA and variable importance in the projection (VIP) produced an overall classification accuracy of 81%. Generally, the finding of this study demonstrated the ability of image texture to precisely provide adequate information that is essential for tree species mapping and monitoring.
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    Exploring the gendered impacts of ecotourism development in Mabibi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    (2020) Mseswa, Andisiwe.; Nel, Adrian.; Hansen, Melissa.
    In South Africa (SA), and many other countries, tourism is seen as an important industry, if not a panacea, for addressing socio-economic regeneration in poor communities, increasing economic activity, and improving local livelihoods (Huijbens et al., 2014, Brouder, 2013 and Das & Chatterjee, 2015). However, tourism is often not well harnessed as an economic opportunity, as many local communities within tourism destinations remain left out from participating in the industry and, as a result, do not benefit directly from its significant growth. Many of South Africa’s ecotourism destinations are inextricably linked to a host of diverse socio-economic and conservation issues and, for the most part, local people do not have access to resources and are left out from the planning and decision-making process (Das & Chatterjee, 2015). Where this occurs, it has had gendered implications, as women are affected greatly due to the inequality in the divisions of labour. There are also broader dynamics in the tourism context, where gendered societies shape gendered tourism practices (Whitehouse, 2006). The study aims to understand the impact of ecotourism on household livelihoods and issues faced by women in Mabibi, Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Mabibi falls within the UMkhanyakude district municipality which is the poorest in the province of KZN, faced with high numbers of unemployment and poverty, and lies within the government proclaimed protected area and world heritage site, the Isimangaliso Wetland Park (IWP). The study adds to an understanding of the socio-economic ecotourism impacts of tourism on local livelihoods in the area, with an added emphasis on how the local people perceive the costs and benefits related to living within the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. The main objectives were to assess: state-society relations that provide context for tourism in the area; the distribution of costs and benefits concerning tourism development; and finally the impact of gender relations on this distribution in Mabibi. To understand the gendered impacts of ecotourism, feminist political ecology theory and a gendered analysis approach were used to understand the relationship tourism has to social, economic, political, and environmental issues in the study area, particularly concerning inequality and patriarchy. Data for this study were collected using a qualitative research method that provided a critical and in-depth analysis of the issues and challenges facing women and the community of Mabibi. The study findings indicate minimal ecotourism opportunities for the community of Mabibi, especially women. Findings suggest that a minority in the community is employed, benefits are unevenly distributed in the park, and ownership of tourism-related enterprises by local people was almost non-existent. Meaningful linkages between the ecotourism industry and the local community are limited to communities’ ownership of shares in the two tourism establishments in the vicinity, and the supply of formal and informal job opportunities. Furthermore, findings reveal that access to local resources and development opportunities are restricted, which has meant that conservation costs have had significant negative impacts on local people as the community depends largely on natural resources. Subsequently, for women, this has had a great impact because of the existing divisions of labour, roles, and household tasks. The study offers new insights into the changing relationships between communities, ecotourism, and conservation by highlighting the dynamics that result from socio-economic relations in ecotourism. The study findings indicate a need for active community engagement and enhanced opportunities for the local people and women of Mabibi.
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    Assessing the utility of unmanned aerial vehicle remotely sensed data for estimating maize leaf area index (LAI) and yield across the growing season.
    (2021) Buthelezi, Siphiwokuhle.; Mutanga, Onisimo.; Sibanda, Mbulisi.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    The influence of bioclimatic and topographic variables on fire occurrence and frequency within the Ethekwini Municipal Area.
    (2021) Makhaya, Zanele.; Odindi, John Odhiambo.; Mutanga, Onisimo.
    Fires have been used for decades as a land management tool. Environments such as grasslands and fynbos depend on fire to maintain their ecological integrity. Fires can also become a disturbance in some ecological zones. Veldfires can be planned, but they can also occur naturally driven by a wide range of variables. However, due to changes in both local and global weather patterns, fires are occurring more frequently, posing a threat to the environment and society. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of bioclimatic and topographic variables on fire occurrence and frequency within a biodiversity-rich urban landscape within the eThekwini Municipal Area. Remote sensing has become a valuable tool for detecting and monitoring fires globally; it is timeefficient and cost-effective. This study used MODIS Active fire product, which has high temporal resolution making it a valuable sensor for monitoring fires and gathering fire data from local to global scales. The interaction between topography, fuel lead and weather has been identified as the primary drivers of fire occurrence in different landscapes. Topographic variables were derived from a 30 m Digital Elevation Model using ArcGIS 10.4. The first part of this study focused on a wide range of topographic and climatic (temperature and precipitation) to determine the most influential drivers of fire occurrence using Maxent modelling algorithm. The results showed that mean temperature of the coldest quarter (33%), isothermality (12.3%), elevation (8.9%), and precipitation of the warmest month (8.8%) were the most influential predictor variables driving fire occurrence in the study area. The model obtained Area Under Curve (AUC) >0.7, indicating that Maxent is suitable for predicting fire probability in an urban landscape. The second part of this study evaluated the relationship between fire frequency and 25 bioclimatic and topographic variables using Pearsons Correlation. The results indicated that variables associated with temperature correlated more with fire frequency. This study can assist land managers in understanding fire probabilities across the municipality, identifying fire-prone regions, and monitoring them to reduce the impact of frequent unplanned fires while protecting ecological systems within the municipality's remnant and conserved urban spaces.