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Portrait de I.P.A. Manning

I originally put forward a

I originally put forward a land tenure hypothesis for the Zambian situation regarding an holistic conservation and development proposition for the customary commons i.e., for customary land and protected land associated with it. I hypothesised as follows:

• That much of the conservation of biodiversity and the environment is dependent on the preservation of indigenous culture and traditional land.
• That tribal societies - having had much of their natural resources and traditional land-user rights removed by colonial governments, an act of general disenfranchisement which continues to be upheld by their own indigenous governments today, requires them to regain these rights and obligations, and in the case of protected areas given up by them voluntarily or by seizure to the state in the past, require them to become the main beneficiaries of future consumptive and non-consumptive use.
• That these rights and responsibilities require to be safeguarded and guided by the creation of custodial community trusts under the direction of the community and the representatives of traditional leaders, but with trustees also drawn from local government, community organizations, NGOs, investors and other responsible agents.
• That customary land – apart from small areas required for infrastructural development and agricultural land should remain inviolate and un-alienated, their use being awarded only to investors under short-term usufruct i.e. ‘the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance’.
• That landuse plans drawn up by the community and under the guidance of the trusts should safeguard trust funds, using them for appropriate development plans, projects and programmes having the full participation and agreement of the whole community
• That land registration books be opened by traditional authorities and local government in which the customary title of villagers may be registered so as to offset ‘honey-pot’ immigration and the enforced imposition of western land tenure systems which will undermine the time-honoured and cohesive structure of tribal society and the land with which it is inextricably linked.
• That investors be encouraged to lease customary land in working and equitable partnerships with the community and government, and that such investment be safeguarded by the trusts, the traditional leaders, and government.

What resulted was my Landsafe model whereby a community institution is formed in which the chief and his headmen vest land (and the responsibility for its management) according to an agreed participatory landuse plan. This community institution then enters into a series of co-management agreements with government, capturing the management rights to protected land, wildlife, fish, forestry and water and, inevitably, some rights to its minerals as well, all of this leading steadily towards a form of devolution which would provide for Zambia a canton-type structure of semi-autonomous chiefdom commons embraced within a federal state, lending it stability and cultural, economic and ecological integrity.

What separates Landsafe from other models and plans is that it considers the customary commons (and the associated protected areas once part of it) to be sacrosanct. It will not alienate land on leasehold to investors or to the customary authority or to chiefdom residents, and it is unequivocal in its support for the re-instatement of customary ownership rights to wildlife and all renewable resources being supported on customary land, but, critically, stressing its co-management with government. Theoretically, with customary land vested in customary area trusts, and with co-management agreements entered into with government in respect of forestry, fisheries, wildlife, and tourism - both consumptive and non-consumptive – the basis for a degree of semi-autonomy and the provision of development incentives should be in place. Environmental goods and services may therefore – according to a landuse plan, which remains the intellectual property of the community - be leased out to suitable business partners. The income from these leases, placed within a secure trust fund, will then be drawn upon for development. However, without capacity support from investors and other interested parties, both within and outside of the customary community area, the theft of development funds would be inevitable. Thus, whilst there will be an income, this would also have to be balanced against the costs of delivering the Landsafe scheme for equitable socio-ecological development. However, in advancing Landsafe, it is necessary to learn from the current experience of other African countries who now experience land grabbing under suspect and inequitible contracts with agribusiness, conservation, tourism development, investment funds and government agencies.


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