Assessment of soil erosion in the Mfolozi catchment, Kwazulu Natal implications for land reform.
The Mfolozi, the second largest catchment in KwaZulu Natal, is already severely degraded over substantial areas. Its mean annual sediment load is extremely high and deposits on its floodplain have caused very serious financial losses. Previous studies in the catchment have attributed its soil loss to poor land use practices by peasant farmers. There is a concern that this production will be substantially increased by land use changes incumbent on the land reform programme. In order to ensure that this programme does not lead to increased degradation and exacerbate associated environmental and socio-economic problems, this study identified both subcatchments and land types that are highly susceptible to erosion and already highly eroded. An unpublished map showing the location of 19 categories of erosional forms and three categories of extreme relief features was available for use. The density (and areal extent in the case of badlands) of each of these forms within each of the 16 possible land types within each of the 43 subcatchments, was obtained and related to their dominant physiographic variables. The findings revealed that the catchment is not as severely or extensively eroded as suggested by previous studies. A substantial portion of the former Natal areas, mostly targeted for reallocation, have however, been shown to be unsuitable for this purpose.