Environmental Justice and Land Reform

Authors: Maano Ramutsindela*,
Topics: Political Geography, Africa, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: environmental justice, land reform, Southern Africa, nature conservation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The question that arises from global concerns with the health of the planet and the need for land reform, especially in the postcolony, is not so much whether there should be a balance between the two but how that balance could be achieved. To be sure, a number of scholars in both the environmental and social sciences have called for such balance (Magome and Murombedzi 2003; Kepe et al. 2005; Adenle 2012; Ghimire and Pimbert 2013; Redford et al. 2015) but approaches to achieve it are still lacking. In this paper I draw on the concept of environmental justice and relate it to land reform in Southern Africa to contribute to approaches that hold the potential for narrowing the gap between the goals of nature conservation and land reform. The main argument of the paper is that the strong divide between conservationists and proponents of land rights can be narrowed down by infusing environmental justice into both land reform and biodiversity conservation. While conservationists have used various strategies to push back environmental justice agendas in protected areas, there is no guarantee that land reform programmes in these areas would translate into environmental justice. We should be critical of land reform in as much as we are about nature conservation. Thus, the question of what kind of environmental justice is delivered by land reform and through conservation is pertinent.

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