Land use analysis using GIS : a case study of Richards Bay Minerals' Zulti South mining lease area.
The past centuries have been marked with massive land conversions from one land use category, usually natural vegetation, to another. The forces that drive these land use changes are complex and poorly understood. However, the study of land has been revolutionised by the introduction of spatial tools such as remote sensing and GIS that automate these complex issues and assist in the solutions of these geographic problems. Land use identification and classification techniques were used in conjunction with GIS to consistently and accurately extract and incorporate land use data from a series of remotely sensed images of Richards Bay Mineral's Zulti South Mineral lease. Eight land use types from Zulti South were identified and mapped from six different remotely sensed images taken at different time periods between the 21 st of September 1990 and the 1st of June 2001. This mapping technique was shown to have an accuracy of 87.6%. The data collated from this study enabled the monitoring and representation of the temporal and spatial differences in land use within a GIS. From the analysis carried in the GIS the land use dynamics within the lease could be quantified and modelled. The time series of the land use datasets indicated how much of the landscape is changing, what changes have occurred and where these changes are taking place. Accurate and timely mapping of land use provides vital information on the state of the mineral lease area and its environment, and facilitates the development of spatial trends from which predictions of land use and land use change can be made.