Assessing Natural Resource Change Drivers in Vhembe Biosphere and Surroundings - Abstract
Biodiversity loss in terms of habitat changes is occurring at alarming rates throughout the world. This study aimed at assessing the drivers of vegetation cover resources as a major driver of ecosystems change in the Vhembe biosphere. In this study, an analysis of vegetation cover resource change drivers over 28 years (1990-2018) in the Vhembe biosphere was conducted. Twelve (12) land cover classes reclassified from South African National Land Cover (SANLC) of Seventy-two (72) classes data set were used in this assessment, including natural woodland; thicket/dense bush; shrubland; indigenous forests; grassland; water bodies and wetlands; barren land; built-up residential area; cultivated commercial area and mines. This data was reclassified to create a natural resource change map with 12 land cover classes indicating transformation and non-transformation natural resources. The 12 natural resource classes were further reclassified to only 2 classes, where the value of 1 was given to natural resources that changed (transformed), hereafter referred to as loss, and 0 to natural resources that never changed (no transformation). Logistic regression analysis was then used to determine drivers of change (dependent variables) with a set of independent variables such as climatic temperatures, topography, edaphic factors in the study area. The study identified climatic variables such as minimum temperatures, average temperatures, precipitation, and soil chemical and physical properties such as; soil pH, nitrogen, soil organic carbon, sand, silt, coarse fragments as the major drivers of vegetation cover natural resources change in Vhembe biosphere.