Aspekte van landskapverandering in die landdrosdistrikte van Clanwilliam, Vanrhynsdorp en Vredendal

De Kock, Gerhardus Lourens (1983-03)

Thesis (D.Phil.)--Stellenbosch University, 1983.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is an analysis of the actual appearance of the visible landscape of the magisterial districts Clanwilliam, Vanrhynsdorp and Vredendal in the Cape Province, R S A. The study area coincides roughly with the basin of the Oliphants River and includes parts of the Sandveld, the Hardeveld and the Knersvlakte between the Atlantic Ocean and coastal mountain range nortHwest of Cape Town. Throughout the study the visible landscape is interpreted as the product of a specific combination of natural and human influences interacting with each other over a long period of time. Consequently the term "Landscape" is defined as the tangible and cumulative result of the intervention of a succession of human life support systems in the natural environment. To establish the extent and nature of this human intervention, the changing landscape is traced from the period before the first human occupance of the area up to the present time. This procedure made it possible to find explanations for the present appearance of the landscape, since the landscape is in many ways the sum total of the influences of numerous visible and invisible processes that operated in the area over time. The method of investigation employed is therefore described as historical-geographical. The study commences with a reconstruction of the genesis of the physical environment (geological and climatogical) and then traces its subsequent evolution chronologically up to the time when Man first appeared on the scene. This provides an understanding of the physical setting and an explanation of the natural resources that later served as a lure for human settlement. The reconstruction and description of the physical components of the landscape start with the geologic evolution. The close relationship between terrain, soil and hydrology, and their relationship to and dependence on the lithologic substructure are discussed. Next an attempt is made at reconstructing local climatic change over the millenia. Against this background of climate,together with soil and surface water, exercising a strong control on the biotic environment, in which vegetation and its evolution is the most significant link in the food chain supporting the fauna of an area,the vegetation is discussed. Finally, a discussion of animals, which appeared last in the evolutionary chain of earthly events, is presented in an ecosystem context. Throughout this first section the natural resources and physical processes that might have influenced Man's settlement in early as well as present times, are identified, setting the stage for the second section of the dissertation, namely an analysis of the cultural aspects of the landscape. The cultural landscape is also unravelled chronologically, beginning with the prehistoric Stone Age Culture (which is subdivided into three sub-cultures), and proceeding through historic periods up to the present mode of cultural occupancy and activities. In studying the evolution of the cultural landscape, most attention is focussed on the more recent period of human occupance and settlement. In this respect the study area has a highly distinctive history in that it formed the first land route from Table Bay to the interior of Southern Africa and was consequently cine of the first parts of the subcontinent to be settled by Whites beyond the innnediate environs of the Cape of Good Hope itself. This analysis of the cultural components of the landscape forms the core of the research and particular attention is paid to the morphology and character of the various types of rural and urban settlements. Presentday rural settlement is confined to extensive stock-farming and limited irrigation farming, whilst typical "Afrikaner-Boeredorpe" (i e, small rural service centers or central place towns) and fishing, railway, and religious or missionary villages and hamlets are found scattered over the 20 500 km2 study area. In the final section of the dissertation a synthesis of al the components of the physical and cultural landscapes is made by subdividing the study area into seven landscape types and their salient characteristics are summarised. In conclusion the problem of ecological imbalance is highligted in this marginal environment where Man is living in disharmony with the constraints of the natural setting and its resources, due to his deliberate or inadvertent abuse of the physical components of the landscape. This finding leads to the proposal that future regional planning programs pay particular attention to the vulnerability of the natural environment under conditions of increasing pressure of population and rising standards of living in this developing community.

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