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Assessment of Land Degradation at Velezizweni, Swaziland

Keywords: Bush encroachment , land cover , land degradation , soil conservation , soil erosion

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Abstract:

The objective of the research was to determine the status of land degradation and its implications for Velezizweni community, an area situated in the Highveld of Swaziland. Landsat ETM digital data taken on December 2009 was used to classify the land into different land cover categories. A questionnaire was developed and administered to 190 homesteads to solicit information on perception of land degradation from land users. About 19% of the area was classified as eroded, with about 45% classified as having poor vegetation cover. Land degradation was perceived as a serious problem by 81 and 90% of the respondents on cropping land and communal grazing land respectively. Invasion of alien plant species (Chromoleana odorata and Acacia pycnatha) was a serious problem, reducing the carrying capacity of grazing land. The results demonstrated that degradation was a serious problem despite the community being involved in some sustainable land management practises which included application of kraal manure to crops, ploughing across the slopes and keeping grass filter strips between cultivated lands.

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