Land degradation, stocking rates and conservation policies in the communal rangelands of Botswana and Zimbabwe

Land degradation, stocking rates and conservation policies in the communal rangelands of Botswana and Zimbabwe

Communual rangeland management policies in Botswana and Zimbabwe are based on incorrect assumptions

This article suggests that communual rangeland management policies in Botswana and Zimbabwe are based on incorrect technical assumptions about the stability of semiarid rangelands, the nature of rangeland degradation, and the benefits of destocking. Consequently, inappropriate policies, stressing the need to destock and stabilise the rangelands, are pursued.

Acknowledgement of the great instability but intrinsic resilience of rangeland would encourage the Governments to more favourable regard the opportunistic stocking strategies of the agro-pastoralists of the Communual Areas. Howeve, degradation of rangelands is occurring, although at varying rates. This justifies the promotion of a 'tracking strategy', in which livestock densities are encouraged to follow more closely than at present, variations in rainfall.

The establishment of grazing territories controlled by specific 'communities' may be a prerequisite for the promotion of the tracking strategy, and for communal rangeland management and improvement. However, the establishment of such territories must take into account social equity, institutional problems and transaction costs, as well as spatial and temporal variation in rangeland resources.

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