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The National Human Settlements Land Inventory (NaHSLI) team spent five days in a technical working session with the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in order to enhance and improve the “natural environment principle” within NaHSLI.

NaHSLI operates on four principles: natural, regulatory, structural and social environments. The natural environment helps to determine the land-suitability context – or put another way, where in South Africa is suitable land located?

The team worked with SANBI to define land-suitability indices for the natural environment. The result is an updated and improved set of indices, which now includes: environmental risk, land capability, ecological infrastructure and biodiversity assets, and climate-change adaptation. In turn, each of these indices has determinants, and the determinants have indicators.

A second technical working session followed in December with the Council for Geoscience (CGS) – the HDA has a signed memorandum of understanding with CGS – to further explore the natural environment principle, and a geotechnical hazard index was added to the above list. The geotechnical condition of land, seismic hazard of land and unprotected mine openings are the determinants of this index.

The land-suitability index equals a summation of the above-listed indices. These indices enhance the ability of NaHSLI to identify suitable land. And, according to Karishma Busgeeth, HDA spatial information and data manager, “they are a fundamental input to determine habitable land for human settlement development”.

“To determine land as habitable,” she said, “land-suitability, availability, accessibility and livelihood opportunity indices have been created and are used by NaHSLI. The technical working sessions dealt with the land-suitability index within the natural environment principle.”

Email Karishma Busgeeth on Karishma.busgeeth@thehda.co.zafor more information.