A framework for the use of GIS for natural resource management : the case of Ferncliffe catchment conservancy.
The Ferncliffe Catchment Conservancy has been identified, within the context of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, for its important geographical and ecological features. The mapping and communication of these features to the broader community resident within the Conservancy have been envisaged as an important undertaking. A most effective way of achieving this goal was to use a Geographic Information System in the mapping exercise and in creating an inventory of the resources in the Conservancy and a monitoring database. Such spatial information would then provide stakeholders with a spatial context within which to appreciate the natural resources available and the problems associated with them. In undertaking this task, spatial data were acquired in digital form as well as from aerial photographs and 1:50000 topo-cadastral maps. These data were imported into ArcView GIS Version 3.1 where the mapping of the various resources was done. An inventory of the resources was created and a spatial database linking attributes that describe the physical environment, the natural vegetation, agricultural activities and the built environment, was set up. It became evident that using a Geographic Information System for natural resource management provides for integration of spatial information which would otherwise be contained in several separate databases and maps. Further, these data can be readily accessed, queried, upgraded and manipulated. For conservancies in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, and indeed, the rest of South Africa, to achieve their aims in natural resource management and monitoring, such an approach would be most efficient and effective.