chapter  5
38 Pages

Land, Soil and Sustainable Livelihoods

In Chapter 2, the notion of land degradation was reviewed in detail and it was argued that it is a composite and complex concept that invariably has different meanings for different actors. Indeed, in much of the academic literature concerning environmental change in Africa, numerous defi nitions have been employed to explain the concept of land degradation, but most interpretations are centrally concerned with a loss in the productivity of the land (Blaikie and Brookfi eld, 1987). Such a broad defi nition covers many scenarios, and thus degradation remains a diffi cult process to grasp in its entirety. Clearly, the ‘productivity of the land’ cannot merely be assessed by a single indicator, and as there continues to be great difference in opinion as to whether or not Africa is currently facing a state of environmental bankruptcy, some critics have suggested that scientists may never reach a consensus about the biophysical processes behind land degradation (Warren, 2002).