Natural Resources Management (NRM)
A natural resources atlas was developed to provide access to a comprehensive set of data and a framework for strategic planning at national and provincial levels for the implementation of programmes such as land redistribution, LandCare as well as international conventions focusing on biodiversity, climate change and land assessment for long-term sustainability. This electronic atlas provides access to 63 national spatial layers of information on soil, climate, vegetation, terrain, land capability, as well as high-resolution satellite data. This will be implemented in the next five to ten years in co-operation with other national departments, provinces and municipalities.
A groundwater development atlas has been created to provide information on the nature of groundwater potential. Databases for agriculture infrastructure, mechanisation and energy will be developed to inform appropriate decision- making processes. A draft strategy on irrigation development has also been developed to enable and guide the development of irrigation as well as improving the irrigation water use efficiency in South Africa.
The LandCare programme was established to promote productivity through the sustainable use of natural resources, to improve food security and create employment, therefore encouraging South Africans to use sustainable methods of cultivation, livestock grazing and harvesting of natural resources in order to limit land degradation. Using various degradation indices, including soil and rangeland degradation, the level of degradation can be determined. The department identified five provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape as the most degraded parts of South Africa.
Although LandCare is a community-based programme, the emphasis of the extension approach in the provinces has now shifted to a greater emphasis on participatory planning, development and an implementation approach to projects. Doing development for the communities has been replaced by working with the communities in order to ensure the rehabilitation and sustainable management of natural resources.
Because of LandCare awareness activities, rural communities in the provinces have a greater awareness of the value of conserving the natural resources. Through the use of conservation farming methods and in-field water harvesting, certain projects have led to a significant increase in production on high-potential land. Grazing lands have been brought into a sustainable management system through correct fencing into camps and suitable water reticulation systems and through the removal of alien invader vegetation. Wetlands used for agricultural purposes have been protected by improved management practices.