The application of landscape ecology in conservation biology has rarely occurred in the context of defined landscapes. Conservation planning has focussed on representation of species diversity patterns and assumed that ecosystems, landscapes and their associated processes will be equally protected. The long-term persistence of biodiversity in the face of land transformations and global change requires the representation and retention of all elements of biodiversity. This biodiversity includes landscapes, and the landscape structure and processes that maintain patterns of biodiversity. We developed a method of classifying landscapes for the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The process entailed the use of 1 km2 grid data from climate and terrain databases. Principal components analysis coupled with a cluster classification method and spatial overlay techniques were used to identify two hierarchical levels of landscapes. Validation analysis showed that landscapes are identifiable with a classification accuracy of 86.8%. The derived landscapes can be combined separately with data on vegetation and soil to describe landscape ecosystems that potentially differ in species composition, successional dynamics, and potential productivity. The surrogate use of the landscapes in conjunction with other strategic data, for the identification of priority conservation areas, is demonstrated. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
Fairbanks, D. H. K., & Benn, G. A. (2000). Identifying regional landscapes for conservation planning: A case study from Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Landscape and Urban Planning, 50(4), 237–257. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-2046(00)00068-2