Drivers of Degradation of Croplands and Abandoned Lands: A Case Study of Macubeni Communal Land in the Eastern Cape, South Africa | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
January 2023
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
LP-midp002151
Copyright details: 
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article

Soil erosion is a global environmental problem and a pervasive form of land degradation that threatens land productivity and food and water security. Some of the biggest sources of sediment in catchments are cultivated and abandoned lands. However, the abandonment of cultivated fields is not well-researched. Our study assesses the level of degradation in cultivated and abandoned lands using a case study in South Africa. We answer three main questions: (1) What is the extent of crop field degradation on used, partly used, and abandoned fields? (2) What are the drivers of field abandonment in relation to land degradation? (3) Can proposed sustainable land management interventions tackle the dynamics of land abandonment and associated degradation? To answer these questions, cultivated and abandoned lands were mapped in a pilot catchment with ArcGIS tools and assigned severity codes and classified according to status, degradation, and encroachment. Systems diagrams were developed to show the interactions between agricultural land use and the level of degradation and leverage points in the system, with interventions assessed via a multi-criteria analysis. The results revealed that 37% of the total mapped area of croplands in the pilot site was abandoned and 20% of those lands were highly degraded. We argue that the innovative application of systems thinking through causal loop diagrams (CLDs) and leverage point analysis, combined with spatial and multi-criteria analyses, can assist with planning SLM interventions in similar contexts in the developing world.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Sibiya, SilindileClifford-Holmes, Jai K.Gambiza, James

Corporate Author(s): 
Publisher(s): 

MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

Data provider

MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

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