The "shrinking commons" in the Lake Ngami grasslands, Botswana: the impact of national rangeland policy
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This paper analyses land management policy using land use mapping, interviews with farmers and other stakeholders, and a review of secondary material. The study was carried out in the Lake Ngami area of Ngamiland District in Botswana. It found that the net effect of policy and development initiatives implemented to curb perceived overstocking, overgrazing, open access tenure and low-output subsistence production was to narrow down the livelihood options for the rural poor and cause further damage to the rangeland. Policy-makers ignored the multi-purpose land use systems and goals of traditional pastoral systems, and emphasised commercialisation of livestock farming and privatisation of communal land. This unfortunately weakened or destroyed the local, traditional land management institutions and set in motion the shrinking of the commons. These policies are a colonial legacy that has survived the transitions from colonial rule to independence.
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