A bioresource classification for KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Camp, Kelson Gerald Temple.
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The classification of Bioresource Units (BRUs) was developed to provide a reconnaissance appraisal of the natural resources for both environmental impact assessments and the agricultural potential of KwaZulu- Natal. Storage of the Bioresource Programme in a geographical information system (GIS) facilitates usage. Of the criteria used for the classification of BRUs, climate (rainfall and temperature in particular), was considered to be the most important factor. Other factors used were the soil association codes of the Land Types, plant indicator species and communities, and terrain type. The base map used for the study was the 1 : 50 000 topo-cadastral map on which the Land Types (LTs) were demarcated. The result of the study was the mapping of 590 BRUs, each of which is sufficiently homogeneous in environmental factors (climate, soil association, vegetation type and terrain form), such that uniform land use practices, production techniques and levels, can be defined with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Ecotopes, based on LT information, were defined for each BRU. An ecotope is a class of land, defined according to soil characteristics, within which agricultural production will be uniform and will differ significantly between one ecotope and another. The ecotopes, both for cropping and veld, are not spatially defined, but expressed as percentages of the total area of the BRU. In the BRU inventory, crops suitable for the BRU and each ecotope, and the level of production (tons/ha/annum) in the case of crop ecotopes, are supplied at a stated level of management. In addition, it is possible to investigate the potential for 29 crops for which crop production models exist, and for any other crop providing its growth and site requirements, particularly climate and soil, are known. Additional crop production models will be developed, as the demand for this type of information is high. Veld management norms, such as grazing capacity, are supplied for the veld ecotopes. On the completion of the classification of BRUs the decision was made to develop a third level of classification and the Bioresource Groups (BRGs) were mapped. In the classification of the BRUs 23 vegetation types had been identified and used as one of the criteria for BRU demarcation. By grouping all the BRUs with the same vegetation type, BRGs were defined. Each BRG, therefore, consists of a specific vegetation type containing one or more BRUs of the same vegetation type. The 23 BRGs are used mainly for regional and veld management planning. The programme was designed for use by a wide range of people with individual skills and knowledge, and contains most of the information needed for land use planning. It is essential however, to be able to identify ecotopes in the field to effectively use the information at a detailed level for farm planning.
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