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Exploring the spatial expansion of settlements in customary regions : a case study of Adams rural, KwaZulu-Natal.

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Adams Rural is one of KwaZulu-Natal’s customary regions which falls under the traditional boundaries of the Ingonyama Trust Board. In this rural area traditional customs are still being practiced. The major land use was previously dominated by agriculture and very few residential settlements. This study reflects on the increasing recognition of the expansion of human settlements in this customary region. The expansion of human settlements is observed to have increased over the past decade and is confirmed by annual aerial imagery of the area captured by the eThekwini Municipality. The historical images captured by the National Geo-Spatial Information (NGI) suggest that there has been a substantial land use change in the area, resulting in loss of land previously used for sugarcane plantation. Therefore the study utilised spatial analytic techniques to quantify spatial changes in Adams Rural and map the land use / land cover change between years 2001-2004, 2004-2006, 2006-2008, 2008-2010 and 2010-2012 in Adams Rural. The research employs a post-classification change detection technique performed on selected orthophoto imagery, to assess spatial change patterns, to quantify the amount and the rate of change in human settlements of Adams Rural during the period 2001 to 2012. The results show that spatial extent of human settlements has more than doubled with commensurate loss in agriculture. Demographic data for 2001 and 2011 obtained from Statistics South Africa (Statistics SA, 2001 and 2011) also confirms that the population of the area has more than doubled over the same period. The rate of increase in settlements varied between periods considered with the population increasing proportionately. A closer inspection of the area was conducted using a questionnaire administered to the community. The questionnaire shows that the major contributor to the population increase in the area is the majority of people relocating from urban areas to this customary region. The questionnaire results further show that people are attracted to the development occurring in the area, larger parcels extent and the low cost of living with no bond payments, as there are no property rates payable on customary land. An attempt was made to project the spatial growth of built-up areas over the next 10 years using the change rate obtained from change detection verifying the prediction using the results from a questionnaire survey of the residents in the study area. It is observed that change by 2022 may likely follow the trend in 2001-2012. The present study shows that spatial analysis based on land use mapping using orthophoto imagery is very effective in monitoring the spatial features in customary regions.


M. Sc. Sur. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Human settlements -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Spatial systems., Land use -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Land tenure -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Land reform -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Theses -- Land surveying.