Assessing developmental footprint within an agricultural system using multi-temporal remotely sensed data.
The advent of the new political dispensation in South Africa has seen an exponential growth in the rate of land transformation and encroachment by other land uses into agricultural land in the uMngeni Local Municipality. Accurate evaluation of the rate of transformation is necessary for effective monitoring and management of the natural agricultural resources. In this regard, the use of multi-temporal remote sensing data provides efficient and cost-effective method. The current research assesses the extent to which the development footprint in uMngeni Local Municipality has affected agricultural land categories or zones, using multi-temporal remote sensing data. The study endeavoured to map and quantify the magnitude of change in built-up land cover and other infrastructure by focusing on two time intervals: the periods from 1993 – 2003 and 2003 – 2013. Medium spatial resolution Landsat image data acquired for these periods were analysed to classify and extract the built-up features to appraise the level of change. Results revealed positive change in built-up infrastructure: ~13% increase between 1993 and 2003, ~38% increase from 2003 – 2013, with overall ~32% for the 20 years (1993 – 2013) period under consideration. Next, factors possibly contributing to the encroachment of other land uses into the agricultural landscape and the potential threats to the sustainability of the agricultural system are highlighted.