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Survey of Community Livelihoods and Landscape Change along the Nzhelele and Levuvhu River Catchments in Limpopo Province, South Africa

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Future Earth and Ecosystems Services Research Group, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Doornfontein Campus, University of Johannesburg, Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, Gauteng, South Africa
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Institute of Land Surface System and Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, No. 19, XinJieKouWai St, HaiDian District, Beijing 100875, China
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University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Department of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, P/Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, Limpopo 0950, South Africa
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Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North West University—Mafikeng Campus, Potchefstroom 2745, South Africa
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State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Stellenbosch University, Matieland 7600, South Africa
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Hope International, Harare 0000, Zimbabwe
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Department of Geography, Environment and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg 2092, South Africa
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(3), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030091 (registering DOI)
Received: 3 January 2020 / Revised: 23 February 2020 / Accepted: 25 February 2020 / Published: 19 March 2020
Landscape-change studies have attracted increasing interest because of their importance to land management and the sustainable livelihoods of rural communities. However, empirical studies on landscape change and its drivers are often poorly understood, particularly, in small rural communities in developing countries such as South Africa. The present study surveyed local community livelihoods and perceptions of landscape change in the Nzhelele and Levuvhu river catchments in Limpopo Province, South Africa. These areas have experienced land reform and are also characterized by environmental degradation, poverty, inequality and environmental justice concerns among other issues. Land-cover maps derived from Landsat satellite imagery were used for purposes of correlating and validating the survey data findings and results. The survey results showed that education levels, working status and marital status have statistically significant effects on community livelihoods (indicated by levels of income, p < 0.05). Maize, fruits and vegetables are the main cultivated crop varieties in the study area, and these crops are mainly used for subsistence to meet household self-consumption requirements. Moreover, local community members and stakeholders argue that the landscape has changed over the past 20 years mainly as a result of urban expansion, deforestation, agricultural diversification and forestry intensification. These landscape changes were largely confirmed by the land-cover change maps derived from satellite imagery. Soil erosion as a result of landscape changes was identified as a major threat and hazard in the study area. Political, natural, economic and cultural factors have been identified as the major underlying drivers for the observed landscape changes. These results have implications for understanding landscape change, coupled with human–nature relationships as well as informing government policy with respect to advancing land management and further promotion of the sustainable livelihoods of rural communities. Overall, the study proposes a multiple stakeholders’ approach and ecosystem-based approach to promote the sustainable management of landscapes in rural areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: Landscape change; livelihoods; sustainable development; subsistence agriculture; South Africa Landscape change; livelihoods; sustainable development; subsistence agriculture; South Africa
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Musakwa, W.; Wang, S.; Wei, F.; Malapane, O.L.; Thomas, M.M.; Mavengahama, S.; Zeng, H.; Wu, B.; Zhao, W.; Nyathi, N.A.; Mashimbye, Z.E.; Poona, N.; Chakwizira, J.; Gumbo, T.; Mokoena, B.; Kaitano, F.; Fundisi, E.; Yeni-Letsoko, V. Survey of Community Livelihoods and Landscape Change along the Nzhelele and Levuvhu River Catchments in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Land 2020, 9, 91.

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