Response Papers

Reforming communal rangeland policy in southern Africa: challenges, dilemmas and opportunities


In the savanna rangelands of southern Africa, the debate about land reform tends to be about the redistribution of formerly freehold ranches and fencing-off the rangeland commons into ranches for better-off African farmers. The position of those who favour privatisation has been strengthened by the belief that the only environmentally sound way to manage the range is to subdivide it into private ranches because traditional open-range pastoralism is environmentally destructive. This point of view is at variance with an ever-increasing body of research. Insufficient attention has been given to the sustainable nature of communal rangeland in savanna areas and to the needs of the poor who depend upon them. Following decades of policies that further reduced and fragmented the commonage, governments have the challenging task of developing and implementing policies for those whose livelihoods depend on more secure and sustainable access to the remaining communal rangelands.

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