Land use and land cover change as a consequence of the South African land reform programme : A remote sensing approach
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Over 18 years after the democratic government took power in South Africa, environmental changes relevant to the land reform policies are taking place because of unintended consequences of land reform policy. This study aimed at investigating the effects of the South African land reform policy on land use and land cover change on a land restitution project in Makotopong, Limpopo province, South Africa. The study used remote sensing techniques through the analysis of Landsat TM images acquired in 1994 and 2007 to produce landscape maps and derive land cover change. Statistics deriving the nature of the decline in the general condition of the land restitution project gave an insight into the kind of landscape transformation that has taken place before and after land restitution program. Quantification of land cover classes have shown a decline in post-transfer activities with a decline in agricultural productivity, as illustrated by the decline in area covered by agricultural crops (showing a decline from 78.03 ha in 1994 to 20.43 ha in 2007). The study recommends that spatial data analysis through remote sensing procedures should form the information base in monitoring and evaluating the land reform projects. Results of this study demonstrated that quantification of the changes in land use and land cover types can be very useful in deriving the nature of the general environmental and social condition of the land reform project.