Sustainable land management model developed

The Spiral Aloe grows in high, mountainous areas in Africa and is common in Lesotho.

Managing a country's natural resources so that they provide the basis for sustainable rural development is a huge challenge. In Lesotho, land is the key resource sustaining rural livelihoods across the country; among other goods and services, it provides communities with food and water, fodder for their animals, and biomass for home heating and cooking. If peoples' needs for these goods and services are to be sustainably met, then land needs to be carefully managed and trade-offs made.

Lesotho's natural resources are presently heavily utilised and poorly managed. This has led to environmental degradation and reducing livelihoods standards. If current trends of natural resource degradation continue, it will become more and more difficult for communities to meet their basic needs.

Highlights:

  • The model, which has just been developed, will help Lesotho to utilize its natural resources in a saving manner and manage it properly.
  • The governance systems will be fully engaged now that guidelines are provided and all the other stakeholders' roles clearly stated.
  • Communities and the central government were fully consulted and decentralization of land governance will likely improve livestock off-take and provide alternative income opportunities.

The problem of Sustainable Land Management in Lesotho is not primarily a technical one but a governance one. The challenge is to establish locally appropriate land governance systems. There is good local knowledge of what systems work and what do not but little local involvement in the management decisions regarding local land. At a workshop held in Maseru in November 2011, stakeholders agreed a model for the governance of land in Lesotho based on the decentralisation of management decisions regarding land to local community user groups.

This model is the result of extensive community consultation and piloting, and input from central government. It is hoped that through the decentralisation of land governance, improving livestock offtake and providing alternative income opportunities to communities the load on the landscape will be reduced to more sustainable levels.

Having agreed a model for Sustainable Land Management in Lesotho, piloting measures are to be intensified with a view to demonstrating improved landscape performance. In addition, an investment programme for land management will be framed that addresses the multi-sectoral nature of the challenge. This is expected to encompass follow-up projects on livestock registration, livestock marketing, rural income generation and improved national monitoring of processes of biophysical change.