Nature divided: Land degradation in South Africa


Timm Hoffman
University of Cape Town


In the same way that South Africa’s people were divided along racial lines, so too was its landscape – into the predominantly communally farmed lands of the homelands and self-governing territories, and commercial farming areas. These divisions, reflected both in former government policy and local practice, have profoundly affected land degradation in South Africa.

This book, the product of extensive research, is based on a landmark report on land degradation arising from South Africa’s commitment to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. It reflects the first complete assessment of South Africa’s land degradation problem, taking into account not only agricultural and ecological concerns, but also the socio-political and historical contexts. It places previously unavailable information in the hands of those who need it most – politicians, agricultural extension officers, and communal and commercial farmers. It will also be of interest to students and teachers.

At once sobering, challenging and optimistic, this book is a call to action. It shows that we are all affected by the extent of land degradation in South Africa.


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Cover image showing a natural landscape with a farm boundary fence.



7 July 2022


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.