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Constraints to the Management of Rangeland as a Common Property Resource in Central Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Bennett, James
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1634
Sector: Grazing
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): rangelands
grazing
open access
local governance and politics
common pool resources
Abstract: "This paper takes as its starting point the assertion that current rangeland management in the central Eastern Cape Province (former Ciskei) of South Africa, is characterised primarily by an open-access approach. Empirical material drawn from several case-study communities in the region is used to examine the main barriers to management of rangeland as a commons. The general inability to define and enforce rights to particular grazing resources in the face of competing claims from outsiders, as well as inadequate local institutions responsible for rangeland management and increasing evidence of land enclosure at both a community and individual level are highlighted as being of key importance. These are often exacerbated by lack of available grazing land, diffuse user groups and local political and ethnic divisions. Many of these problems have a strong legacy in historical apartheid policies such as forced resettlement and betterment planning. "On this basis it is argued that policy should focus on improving existing under-utilised resources (particularly arable lands), providing additional grazing resources (through restitution and redistribution) where appropriate and, in particular, developing policies that facilitate the emergence of effective, local institutions for rangeland management. Given the limited grazing available to many communities in the region, a critical aspect of this will be finding ways to legitimise current patterns of extensive resource use, which traverse existing community boundaries. However, this runs counter to the main tenets of the recent Communal Land Rights Act (2004), which strongly links community management with legal ownership of land within strictly defined boundaries. Finding ways to overcome this apparent disjuncture between policy and practise will be vital for the effective management of common pool grazing resources in the region."

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