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Land Use & Sustainable Development

This programme builds directly on the long-term programme started in the winter rainfall region in 1995. It recognises that in Namaqualand, the need for grazing land for people who have historically been excluded from the formal commercial agricultural sector is of paramount importance. However, traditional land use practices in the over-crowded communal areas have led to significantly altered landscapes with reduced perennial succulent plant diversity.

A different approach to natural resource management is needed if communal farmers in Namaqualand are to benefit from the democratisation process in South Africa and if the conservation status of the vegetation of the region is to be improved. This programme, which has drawn its funding from a range of local and international sources, identifies appropriate natural resource management systems, alternative strategies and income sources, and viable policy options to improve the welfare of communities and the sustainable use of their rangelands. Local knowledge of important grazing and medicinal plants is combined with an ecological understanding of the role that these plants play in the landscape and livelihoods of people living in the region.

Included in this programme is a focus on sustainable plant use practices and the impact of the horticultural and medicinal plant trade on plants such as Aloe and Cycads.  Additional long-term monitoring studies in the fynbos biome (e.g. Zandvlei, Table Mountain area) also form part of this programme.

Livestock being let out to graze in the morning on the communal rangelands of Paulshoek, Namaqualad. (Photo: M.T. Hoffman)