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Fenced in: Common property struggles in the management of communal rangelands in central Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Bennett, J., Ainslie, A. and Davis, J. (2010) Fenced in: Common property struggles in the management of communal rangelands in central Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Land Use Policy, 27 (2). pp. 340-350. ISSN 0264-8377

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.04.006


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 three 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 resourses in the face of competing claims from ‘outsiders’, as well as inadequate local institutions responsible for rangeland management 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 facilitating 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 recent legislation, which strongly links community management with legal ownership of land within strict boundaries often defined through fencing. Finding ways to overcome this apparent disjuncture between theory and policy will be vital for the effective management of common pool grazing resources in the region.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:30588

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