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

  • Anthony R Palmer
  • James E Bennett


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.

Keywords: communal rangelands, land degradation, rehabilitation, social systems

African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2013, 30(1&2): 57–63

Author Biographies

Anthony R Palmer
Agricultural Research Institute–Animal Production Institute, PO Box 101, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Centre for African Conservation Ecology, PO Box 7700, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
James E Bennett
Department of Geography, Environment and Disaster Management and Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9380
print ISSN: 1022-0119