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SPACES North Limpopo Living Landscapes

SPACES North Limpopo Living Landscapes - Understanding the dynamics of ecological and cultural landscapes, in the face of global change, in the northern Limpopo region of South Africa

  • Project PI


PD Dr. Jürgen Schellberg   


  • Project aim

Within the agricultural landscapes of Limpopo Province, the Limpopo Living Landscapes project aims to understand and predict the combined effects of land use and climate change processes on (i) rangeland vegetation (ii) unique biodiversity and (iii) rural livelihoods and to identify farm and policy level intervention strategies that support sustainable rural livelihoods and the natural resource base on which these people depend.

The project will make detailed studies along two transects (Thohoyandou to Giyani and Turfloop to Phalabora) which provide a representative sample of climate, vegetation, soils, landuse and communities. The methodologies will include socio-economic assessment of the current and future livelihood options for rural communities, on-farm/on-station experimentation and measurement in agricultural systems with a focus on understanding crop and rangeland productivity under highly variable climates and the use of remote sensing and predictive modelling tools to upscale and extrapolate. By working within communities along these transects, scenarios will be developed participatively that explore better land management options under current and future climate scenarios.

Subproject 3: This sub-project will focus on the state of rural rangelands, its ability to provide ecosystem services and vulnerability under future global change which includes anthropogenic land transformation. The dimension of the physical and biological environment will be captured by surveys, ground truth measurements and remote sensing, a technology that will allow coverage of spatio-temporal variation along climatic and pedological gradients. The coupling of dynamic growth models with remotely sensed information on vegetation will enable us to make predictions on current and future land use patterns, hot spots and episodic events of degradation and its response to a wider range of climate scenarios. The link between socio-economic and ecological aspects will be at the centre of our research, including feedbacks of management to vegetation state and productivity. Project activities on GIS and remote sensing will be coordinated with SP 1 for the benefit of common processing and interpretation of spatial data, integration of dynamic modeling of vegetation phenology and its incorporation of algorithms into the dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM).


  • Run time

2013 - 2016

  • Study areas

Limpopo Province, Republic of South Africa


  • Staff

PD Dr. Jürgen Schellberg

Dr. Olena Dubovyk

Andreas Tewes


  • Cooperation partners

Universities in South Africa (Witwatersrand, Venda and Limpopo) and Germany (Göttingen, Frankfurt and Cologne)


  • Funding agency

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

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