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Participatory selection process for indicators of rangeland condition in the Kalahari

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To develop indicator–based management tools that can facilitate sustainable natural resource management by non–specialists, meaningful participation of stakeholders is essential. A participatory framework is proposed for the identification, evaluation and selection of rangeland condition indicators. This framework is applied to the assessment of rangeland degradation processes and sustainable natural resource management with pastoralists in the southern Kalahari, Botswana. Farmer knowledge focused on vegetation and livestock, with soil, wild animal and socio–economic indicators playing a lesser role. Most were indicators of current rangeland condition; however ‘early warning’ indicators were also identified by some key informants. This demonstrates that some local knowledge is process–based. Such knowledge could be used to improve indicator–based management tools and extension advice on the livelihood adaptations necessary to prevent or reduce ecological change, capable of threatening livelihood sustainability. There is evidence that social background influences indicator use. Communal farmers rely most heavily on vegetation and livestock indicators, whilst syndicate and land–owning pastoralists cite wild animal and soil–based indicators most frequently. These factors must be considered if indicator–based management tools are to meet the requirements of a diverse community.
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Keywords: Kalahari; degradation; indicators; livestock management; participation; rangeland condition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leeds Environment and Development Group, University of Leeds

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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