Research Articles

Remote sensing land-cover change in Port Elizabeth during South Africa’s democratic transition

John Odindi, Paidamwoyo Mhangara, Vincent Kakembo
South African Journal of Science | Vol 108, No 5/6 | a886 | DOI: | © 2012 John Odindi, Paidamwoyo Mhangara, Vincent Kakembo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 August 2011 | Published: 11 May 2012

About the author(s)

John Odindi, School of Environmental Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Paidamwoyo Mhangara, Space Operations, South African National Space Agency, Pretoria, South Africa
Vincent Kakembo, Department of Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Urban population increase has caused significant urban landscape transformation globally. Before 1994, South Africa’s highly regulated urban growth was shaped by the restrictive Prevention of Illegal Squatters Act of 1951. After the abolishment of the act in the 1980s, the period of transition to democracy in the 1990s was characterised by an unprecedented urban population influx that caused a myriad of socio-economic and environmental challenges. These challenges have consequently compounded the need to monitor urban growth for the planning and optimisation of urban spaces. The limitations of traditional mapping methods, such as surveying and photogrammetry, in urban mapping are well documented. In the recent past, satellite remote sensing has emerged as one of the most viable urban mapping tools. Using post-classification comparisons, we sought to monitor major land use and land cover (LULC) changes in the city of Port Elizabeth during South Africa’s democratic transition (1990–2000). Images for 1990, 1995 and 2000 were acquired, geo-rectified and atmospherically corrected. An iterative self-organising data analysis (ISODATA) was then used to generate existing LULCs. Classes generated using ISODATA were then amalgamated to the city’s major LULCs and resultant classes were validated using aerial photographs and field visits. Results showed that ‘Built-up’ and ‘Bare surface’ LULC classes had the highest increase and decrease, respectively. There was no change in the ‘Beach or dune’ LULC, whereas ‘Green vegetation’ and ‘Water’ classes had minimal changes. This study illustrates the efficacy of remote sensing in monitoring urban change and the potential of remote sensing to aid decision-making in rapidly changing urban landscapes.


Remote sensing; Urbanization; LULC change; Population; Port Elizabeth


Total abstract views: 2007
Total article views: 2787


Ridd MK, Liu JA. Comparison of ur algorithms r change detection in an urban environment. Remote Sens Environ. 1998;6:95–100.

Antrop M. Changing patterns in the urbanized countryside of Western Europe. Landscape Ecol. 2000;15:257–270.

Herold M, Goldstein NC, Clarke KC. The spatiotemporal rm of urban growth: Measurement, analysis and modeling. Remote Sens Environ. 2003;86:286–302. S0034-4257(03)00075-0

Moeller MS, Blaschke T. Urban change extraction from high resolution satellite image. Paper presented at: ISPRS Technical Commission II Symposium; 2006 July 12–14; Vienna, Austria. Enschede: ISPRS, 2006; p.151–156.

United Nations Environmental Program: Key facts about cities: Issues r the urban millennium. New York: United Nations Environmental Program; 2005.

Montgomery MR, Hewett PC. Urban health in developing countries: Household and neighborhood effects. Demography. 2005;42:397.

Potts D. Shall we go home? Increasing urban poverty in African cities and migration processes. Geogr J. 1995;161:245–264.

Gelderblom D. Migration patterns in South Africa. In: Falola I, Salm S, editors. Urbanization and globalization in Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004; p.117–136.

Mundia CN, Aniya M. Analysis of landuse/cover changes and urban expansion of Nairobi city using remote sensing and GIS. Int J Remote Sens. 2005;26:2831–2849.

Roberts M. The ending of apartheid: Shifting inequalities in South Africa. Geography. 1994;79:53–64.

Mabin A. The impact of apartheid on rural areas of South Africa. Antipode. 1991;23:33–46.

Sihlongonyane MF. Monitoring paper part 1: Land occupation in South Africa. National Land Committee, South Africa [homepage on the Internet]. c2003 [cited 2010 Oct 25]. Available from:

Seekings J. Introduction: Urban studies in South Africa after apartheid. Int J Urban Regional Res. 2000;24:882–840.

Platzky L, Walker C. The surplus people. Johannesburg: Raven Press; 1985.

Christopher AJ. Urban segregation in post apartheid South Africa. Urban Stud. 2001;38:449–466.

Collinson MA, Tollman SM, Kahn K. Migration, settlement change and health in post-apartheid South Africa: Triangulating health and demographic surveillance with national census data. Scand J Public Health. 2007;35:77–84., PMid:17676507, PMCid:2830108

Kok P, Collinson MA. Migration and urbanization in South Africa. Report 03-04-04. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa; 2006.

Pillay DL, Sebake MD. Assessing post apartheid settlement growth patterns using remote sensing and GIWS: A case study of Cape Town metropolitan area. Paper presented at: Second CSIR Biennial Conference; 2008 Nov 17–18; Pretoria, South Africa. Pretoria: CSIR, 2008; p. 1–7.

Shao Y, Walsh SJ, Entwisle B, Rindfuss RR. Spatial clustering and urban settings of rural migrants in Bangkok, Thailand. Geocarto Int. 2008;23:35–52.

Prakash A, Gupta RP. Land-use mapping and change detection in a coal mining area – A case in the Jharia coalfield, India. Int J Remote Sens. 1998;19:391–410.

Rawashdeh SA, Saleh B. Satellite monitoring of urban spatial growth in Amman Area, Jordan. J Urban Plan D-ASCE. 2006;132:211–216.

Yagoub MM. Monitoring of urban growth of a desert city through remote sensing: Al-Ain, UAE, between 1976 and 2000. Int J Remote Sens. 2004;25:1063–1076.

. Thapa K, Burtch R. Primary and secondary methods of data collection in GIS/LIS. SaLIS. 1991;51:162–170.

Longley PA. Geographical inrmation systems: Will developments in urban remote sensing and GIS lead to ‘better’ urban geography? Prog Hum Geogr. 2002;26:231–239.

Mas JF. Monitoring land-cover changes: A comparison of change detection techniques. Int J Remote Sens. 1999;20:139–152.

Singh A. Digital change detection techniques using remotely-sensed data. Int J Remote Sens. 1989;10:989–1003.

Xu C, Liu M, Yang X, Sheng S, Zhang M, Huang Z. Detecting the spatial differentiation in s ettlement change during rapid urbanization in the Nanjing metropolitan region, China. Environ Monit Assess. 2010;171:457–470. ,, PMid:20058069

Abbot J, Douglas D. The use of longitudinal spatial analysis of inrmal settlements in urban development planning. Devel Southern Africa. 2003;20:3–19.

Deng JS, Wang K, Deng YH, Qi GJ. PCA-based land-use change detection and analysis using multitemporal and multisensory satellite data. Int J Remote Sens. 2008;29:4823–4838.

Dewan AM, Yamaguchi Y. Using remote sensing and GIS to detect and monitor land use and land cover change in Dhaka Metropolitan of Bangladesh during 1960–2005. Environ Monit Assess. 2009;150:237–249., PMid:18317939

Kesgin B, Nurlu E. Land cover changes on the coastal zone of Candarli Bay. Environ Monit Assess. 2009;157:89–96., PMid:18704725

Hope RK. Managing rapid urbanization in Africa: Some aspects of policy. J Third World Stud. 1999;16:47–59.

Statistics South Africa. Community survey [homepage on the Internet]. c2007 [updated 2009; cited 2011 June 27] Available from:

Green K, Kempka D, Lackey L. Using remote sensing to detect and monitor land-cover and land-use change. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens. 1994;60:331–337.

LuD, Mausel P, Brondizios E, Moran E. Change detection techniques. Int J Remote Sens. 2004;25:2365–2407.

Fuller RM, Smith GM, Devereux BJ. The characterization and measurement of land cover through remote sensing: Problems in operational applications? Int J Appl Earth Obs. 2003;4:243–253.

. Chen X. Using remote sensing and GIS to analyze land cover change and its impact on regional sustainable development. Int J Remote Sens. 2001;22:1–8.

Eastman JR, Fulk M. Long sequence time series evaluation using standardized principal components. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens. 1993;59:991–996.

Singh A. Change detection in tropical rest environment of north eastern India using Landsat data. In: Eden MJ, Parry JT, editors. Remote sensing of tropical land management. London: Wiley, 1986; p. 237–254.

Wang J, Treitz PM, Howarth PJ. Road network detection from SPOT imagery r updating geographical inrmation systems in the rural–urban fringe. Int J Geogr Inf Syst. 1992;6:141–157.

Rutchey K, Velchneck L. Development of an everglades vegetation map using a SPOT image and the Global Positioning System. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens. 1994; 60:767–775.

. Metternicht G. Change detection assessment using fuzzy sets and remotely sensed data: An application of topographic map revisions. ISPRS J Photogramm. 1999;53:221–233.

Jensen JR. Introductory image processing – A remote sensing perspective. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prince-Hall; 1996.

Dewidar KM. Detection of land use/land cover changes r the northern part of the Nile delta (Burullus region), Egypt. Int J Remote Sens. 2004;25:4079–4089. 80/01431160410001688312

ody GM. Status of land cover classification accuracy assessment. Remote Sens Environ. 2002;80:185–201.

Quarmby NA, Cushine JL. Monitoring urban land cover changes at the urban fringe from SPOT HRV imagery in south-east England. Int J Remote Sens. 1989;10:953–963.

Paolini L, Grings F, Sobrinos JA, Munoz JC, Karszenbaum H. Radiometric correction effects in Landsat multi-date/multi-sensor change detection studies. Int J Remote Sens. 2006;27:685–704.

Coppin P, Jonkheere I, Nackaerts K, Muys B, Lambin E. Digital change detection methods in ecosystem monitoring: A review. Int J Remote Sens. 2004;25:1565–1596.

Morisette JT, Khoram S. Accuracy assessment curves r satellite-based change detection. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens. 2000;66:875–880.

Townshend JRG, Justice CO, Gurney C, Mcmanus J. The impact of misregistration on change detection. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens. 1992;30:1054–1060. http://dx.doi. org/10.1109/36.175340

Milne A. Change detection analysis using Landsat imagery: A review of methodology. Paper presented at: IGARR’88. Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing 1988 Symposium; 1988 Sep 13–16; Edinburgh, Scotland. Noordwijk: ESA, 1988; p. 541–544.

Jensen JR. Introductory image processing: A remote sensing perspective. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall; 2005.

Janzen DT, Fredeen AL, Wheate R. Radiometric correction techniques and accuracy assessment r Landsat TM data in remote rested regions. Can J Remote Sens. 2006;32:330–340. ttp://

Hartvich F, Koskinen K, Pellikka P. Change detection of urban areas using multitemporal Landsat TM satellite data in Turku Finland. Paper presented at: Nordic GIS Conference; 2001 Oct 08–10; Helsinki, Finland.

IDRISI Kilimanjaro. Version 14.02.Worcester: Clark Labs; 2004.

Congalton RG, Plourde L. Quality assurance and accuracy assessment of inrmation derived from remotely sensed data. In: Bossler J, editor. Manual of geospatial science and technology. London: Taylor and Francis, 2002; p. 349–361.

Congalton RG. A review of assessing the accuracy of classification of remotely sensed data. Remote Sens Environ. 1991;37:35–46.

. Lo CP, Choi J. A hybrid approach to urban land/cover mapping using Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) images. Int J Remote Sens. 2004;25:2687–2700. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/01431160310001618428

Naude WA, Krugell WF. Are South African cities too small? Cities. 2003;20:175–180.

Mather C. Beyond the farm: Rural and agricultural geography. In: Rogerson C, McCarthy J, editors. Geography in a changing South Africa. Cape Town: Oxrd University Press, 1992; p. 229–245.

Reader Comments

Before posting a comment, read our privacy policy.

Post a comment (login required)


Crossref Citations

1. Future land use management effects on ecosystem services under different scenarios in the Wabe River catchment of Gurage Mountain chain landscape, Ethiopia
Mesfin Sahle, Osamu Saito, Christine Fürst, Sebsebe Demissew, Kumelachew Yeshitela
Sustainability Science  vol: 14  issue: 1  first page: 175  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1007/s11625-018-0585-y