Response Papers

Degradation of communal rangelands in South Africa: towards an improved understanding to inform policy

DOI: 10.2989/10220119.2013.779596
Author(s): AnthonyR Palmer, South Africa, JamesE BennettDepartment of Geography, Environment and Disaster Management and Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, UK


In South Africa, the relative extent of range degradation under freehold compared to communal tenure has been strongly debated. We present a perspective on the processes that drive rangeland degradation on land under communal tenure. Our findings are based on literature as well as extensive field work on both old communal lands and ‘released’ areas, where freehold farms have been transferred to communal ownership. We discuss the patterns of degradation that have accompanied communal stewardship and make recommendations on the direction policy should follow to prevent further degradation and mediate rehabilitation of existing degraded land.

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