Community-based restoration of degraded landscapes: Developing a training model for sustainable land management at Machubeni, Eastern Cape

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Monde Duma

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Land degradation is a global environmental problem, especially in the smallholder farming sector in rural areas. Restoration is a key response strategy of Sustainable Development Goal 15, particularly under the land degradation neutrality target 15.3. By recognising that top-down restoration programmes have generally failed, we present a sustainable land management project of the Global Environment Facility 5, which implements participatory approaches to foster restoration in South Africa. The project is based on self-determination theory, under which the success or failure of restoration are understood through the soc-contextual conditions that enhance or forestall buy-in. Collaborating with local leaders and stakeholders, identifying passionate volunteers (called Land Conservation Activists (LCAs)) and exposing them to training opportunities, is a project’s imperative. Researchers, LCAs and the community are integral to the project’s approach, which entails peer-to-peer training, learning exchanges, and continuous sharing of knowledge and skills. For example, in Machubeni’s site the local community has championed the project’s restoration programme. However, a range of contradictions are revealed when working with communities. Particularly, there are trade-offs between the time spent on restoration activities and the fulfilment of basic human needs. Lessons learnt indicate that a simultaneous improvement of grazing management and rangeland restoration can only be achieved through farmers’ collaboration on grazing control. Further government and project investments in building skills and knowledge are needed to achieve win-win restoration across natural and social dimensions. Building trust with communities is a long-term process and the project is still in the initial stage of developing a common understanding.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration