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What about the woodlands and the contribution of natural resources to the livelihoods of the rural poor?

South Africa is the third most biodiverse country in the world. But currently there is no clear custodian of these environmental goods and services which make a vital contribution to the livelihoods of the rural poor and the economy as a whole.

Charlie Shackleton (2009) argues that the value of a range of natural resources – fuelwood, medicinal plants, weaving and basketry fibres, mopane worms, wild fruits and edible herbs “is unknown and unrecorded in national GDP statistics” but that “it certainly equates to billions of rands per year”.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) now has the legal responsibility for management of indigenous forests and woodlands however “the density of forest officers in rural areas is so limited that most rural inhabitants never meet or see one”.

Shackleton argues that to date the predominant focus has been on enforcement of the National Forests Act and that little attention has been paid to the local use and value of South Africa’s rich biodiversity resources. He asks how long can this continue and suggests that “perhaps the time is ripe for the establishment of a directorate of natural resource management” in the appropriate government department.

The relationship between natural resource management and extension services for natural resource users and small holder producers remains unclear. This will need to be a priority area in the development of a national extension policy. Charlie Shackleton will soon contribute an opinion piece which sets out his ideas about how this might be addressed. Download his 2009 commentary from the link below.

SHACKLETON, C. 2009. Commentary: Will the real custodians of natural resource management please stand up? South African Journal of Science, 105.

Click the image for a view of: Natural resources make a vital contribution to the livelihoods of the rural poor: Picture:
Natural resources make a vital contribution to the livelihoods of the rural poor: Picture:

Posted: 9/8/2012 (6:18:52 AM)


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