Management of some commons in southern Africa: Implications for policy

Profound transformations in communal land tenure systems are taking place in parts of southern Africa that have resulted from decades of interventions, particularly the shrinking of the commonage through capture of extensive tracts of lands by private interests. Some policies have been into place that envisage improved management of common rangeland resources through privatisation. However, empirical evidence is lacking as to what extent these may have been successful. Traditional management systems in communal areas have been broken down to the extent that many of them are now more characteristic of open access systems. An alternative to meeting the challenge of managing resources in common rangelands is to develop community-based rangeland resource management systems that build on the strengths of traditional management approaches. Therefore a call is made on the use of indigenous knowledge systems and empowering communities to manage their rangeland resources, in order to prevent open access and promoting improved rangeland management and more sustainable livelihoods.

Doreen Atkinson, Michael Taylor and Frank Matose