We recently attended a presentation given by Dr Justin du Toit on Remote sensing in the eastern Karoo. This was based on research which is being done by Ecosystem Management Support for Climate change in Southern Africa (EMSAfrica) in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Their main aim has been to understand the impacts of land use and climate change on the structure and function of South African Terrestrial ecosystems. They have numerous research sites, two of which are at Grootfontein Agricultural College, on the outskirts of Middelburg. Not only are they looking at remote sensing but are doing ecophysiological and land-atmosphere carbon exchange experiments.
This project has been running for 2 years and this was the opportunity to introduce their work to land owners and land users and obtain feedback with the whole idea being that they can then produce information/products relevant to ecosystem management in this area and form long-term collaboration with the land users in and around Middelburg.
Remote sensing is all about obtaining information without making actual physical contact with your object/subject.
One of the things we already do at Karoo Ridge is ground-based/fixed point photography. This is remote sensing. This gives us incredibly valuable information as it gives us a view into the past. Among other things it allows us to see the visual effect of drought on vegetation, seasonal and annual changes in vegetation biomass and general ground cover over time.
Other remote sensing methods which can be used for monitoring include satellite imagery and drones which can be valuable sources of information for land management, giving us a completely different perspective. They can be used for monitoring moisture, soil erosion, vegetation cover, alien plants and more.
Drone footage showing a section of the Groot Brak River with vegetation recovery on the left hand side from old cultivated lands.
We look forward to learning more and having access to more data to assist us in land management in the future.