An investigation into changes in land use/cover patterns in Manganeng area, Limpopo, South Africa.
Manaka, Martha Patience Rebiditjoe (Budu)
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Manganeng area is a communal land with the local community relying on use ofland for their livelihoods. Manganeng shows signs of continued land degradation due to inappropriate land use management, while land use and land cover offer low returns. Continued degradation of natural resources has led to an investigation into changes in land use patterns in the area. Past and present aerial photographs (covering the years 1950, 1964, 1977, 1983 and 1995), recorded and oral history were used as main data sources for investigating changes in land use patterns in the study area. A GIS was also used to quantify the rate of land use change. Data collected from this study aided in providing infonnation about natural resources in the area, how these resources have changed over time and methods used to protect the environment. This study established that from 1950 to 1995, residential land had increased significantly, while farmland and bare rock on Ntswelatau Mountain had increased slightly. Other land cover such as dongas and scattered trees had remained stable over time. Grazing land had decreased significantly while deposited sand and clustered trees decreased insignificantly. A visual change assessment conducted in 2003 indicated that no significant change had occurred in the area since the 1995 aerial photograph was taken. Population growth in Manganeng has led to an increase in residential land use, which directly affected other land uses such as grazing and farmland. The communities' indigenous knowledge has helped in reducing and/or maintaining donga sizes over the past 54 years while restrictions on tree felling on Ntswelatau Mountain has conserved vegetation in the area. Cultivation methods applied in Manganeng are not environmentally sustainable and need to be improved. It is recommended that further research be carried out to assess soil erosion, economic potential, and integration of political/governing powers, as well as levels of agricultural education and awareness among the community. This will ensure an improved understanding of the natural environment in Manganeng, and can provide coping and recovery strategies from stress and shocks of unsustainable resource use in order to preserve these resources for future generations. It is further recommended that the Sustainable Livelihood Framework be adopted in assessing an integrated view of issues related to community based resource management in the area so as to provide insight into priority development options for Manganeng.