Title: Governing the commons to attain land degradation neutrality in Lesotho

Final project
Year of publication:
rangelands, socio-ecological systems, LDN


Land degradation is labeled as a universal problem that corrodes the three pillars of Sustainable development: social, environmental and economic. Social and ecological processes are frequently treated as different units and yet this is where environmental problems emanate. In an effort to address land degradation, the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) drafted a concept called Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) which was later adapted into the Sustainable Development Goals. The UNCCD invited countries to set their voluntary LDN targets and Lesotho followed suit. With Lesotho’s targets in place, this study aims to analyse how Lesotho can facilitate effective implementation of LDN through understanding of the local socio ecological factors contributing to degradation and their interlinkages. The study focuses on Lesotho’s rangeland socio-ecological system as an area of prime concern due to its being the major land cover (60%), the benefits derived from rangelands and the vulnerability to erosion. To analyse the rangeland socio-ecological system (SES), the study employed the Socio-Ecological System Framework, designed by Elinor Ostrom and fellow scholars. A detailed desk analysis was compiled, and a survey was undertaken in Lesotho with the use of an online survey software. Results from the study describe Lesotho’s rangeland SES as unique in terms of the hierarchy and power dynamics. The role of Chiefs in land management is crucial and a potential bottleneck in the system. Ineffective implementation of laws causes rangelands to be susceptible to degradation. The results further indicate that practices that are deeply embedded in the farming culture such as rest rotation (leboella) should be widely adopted. In terms of local indigenous knowledge, herd boys were recognized as a vital component in the rangeland SES and the governing system (i.e. ministries) should utilize their knowledge as they are the major custodians of rangelands in Lesotho. The study therefore offers insight on how Lesotho can act locally towards the greater achievement of the LDN as a global goal.

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