Changes in the distribution of degraded land over time in the central Karoo
Author: James Keay-Bright and John Boardman
Publication: Catena vol. 67, pp 1-14
This paper forms part of a long-term study of land degradation in the Klein Seekoei valley in the Sneeuberg uplands about 30 km southwest of the town of Middelburg, South Africa (Fig. 1).
Landscape degradation in this area is characterized by the development of badlands on the footslopes of upland areas and by gully systems in valley bottoms (Boardman et al., 2003). Herding of domestic livestock probably has occurred in parts of the Karoo for 2000 years (Elphick, 1985; Bollong and Sampson, 1999). There is some debate whether pre- colonial herders caused irreversible damage to the land- scape. Lovegrove (1993) states that they could have been responsible for some localized overgrazing, whereas Fox (2000) suggests that European colonialists are responsible for the dramatic increase in degradation over the last 200 years. Our work has focused on the period since European colonisation, which began in the second half of the 18th century (Raper and Boucher, 1988; Newton-King, 1999; Smith, 1999).