Adaptive management for complex communal rangelands in South Africa

  • Nicky Allsopp


Many of the intransigent problems facing the world arise in complex systems. In this paper, I propose that communal rangelands in South Africa be recognised as complex social–ecological systems and that one of the reasons that development initiatives have had little impact on improving livelihoods and rangeland condition is that interventions have been based on reductionist thinking that has failed to recognise non-linearities and uncertainties in the system. This complexity resides in ecological, social and economic components of the system, and is characterised by dynamics operating at different scales within and beyond the boundaries of the rangelands. People and the environment are vulnerable to change in these systems from factors such as changing climate, economics, governance arrangements, as well as disasters. Policy that promotes adaptability and resilience, and is itself responsive to changing dynamics, should be sought. Complex systems modelling with an inclusive group of stakeholders holds potential for realising such policy.

Keywords: non-linear systems, resilience, social–ecological systems, vulnerability

African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2013, 30(1&2): 65–69

Author Biography

Nicky Allsopp
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), Fynbos Node, Private Bag X07, Claremont 7735, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9380
print ISSN: 1022-0119