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The nature, extent and causes of land degradation in South Africa: legacy of the past, lessons for the future?

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The aim of this paper is to reassess the land degradation and desertification problem in South Africa. The country has a wide range of interrelated environmental and development challenges existing in a socio–political context recently subject to substantial change. The paper outlines the fundamental environmental constraints and opportunities that underlie degradation phenomena and illustrates the nature, extent and geographical distribution of the major forms of soil and vegetation degradation in the country. The principal causes of degradation are identified and some important land use and land tenure questions that need to be addressed in the near future are posited.

Keywords: South Africa; historical legacy; land degradation; land tenure; soil erosion; vegetation degradation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: 2002-12-01

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