This interdisciplinary collection uses collaborative research from the major savanna regions which stretch across Africa to make its case. Environmental thinking about Africa is dominated by narratives of degradation and chaos. The contributors demonstrate that the empirical foundations of such long-held views are shaky at best.
Contents: I Introduction African savannas: contested images, contested realities: environment & society in African savannas by Thomas J. Bassett & Donald Crummey; II Longue Duree Changing land use & environmental fluctuations in the African savanna by Martin Williams; III Land Users & Landscapes Fire in the savanna: environmental change & land tenure reform in northern Cote d'Ivoire by Thomas J. Bassett, Zueli Koli Bi & Tiona Ouattara; Investing in soil quality: farmer responses to land scarcity in southwestern Burkina Faso by Leslie Gray; Farmer tree planting in Wallo, 1937-97 by Donald Crummey & Alex Winter-Nelson; The wild vegetation cover of western Burkina Faso: colonial policy & post-colonial developments by Mahir Saul, Jean-Marie Ouadba & Ouetian Bognounou; IV Pastoral Ecologies Rethinking interdisciplinary paradigms & the political ecology of pastoralism in East Africa by Peter D. Little; Pastoralism & highland savannas: Grassfields (Cameroon) & Ngorongoro (Tanzania) by Jean Boutrais; V Policy, Producers & Resources Ecological 'crisis' & resource management policy in Zimbabwe's communal lands by William Munro; Littering the landscape: environmental policy in northeast Ethiopia by Dessalegn Rahmato; Social differentiation, farming practices & environmental change in Mozambique by Merle L. Bowen, Alrindo Chilundo & Cesar A. Tique
Thomas J. Bassett is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign; Donald Crummey is Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
'...a very readable and nicely presented volume... the case studies detail much needed empirical work towards understanding the events and processes that lead to landscape change at the local and regional level... it is a book that will be welcomed by students and teachers at undergraduate level with an interest in understanding society-environment relations and the dynamics of environmental change on the continent' - Jennifer A. Elliot in Geography 'Environmental discourses for African savannas have been dominated by images of crisis and extensive degradation throughout the development literature and policy spheres for many years. Gradually, negative environmental portrayals (for example of desertification and deforestation) have been questioned in academic literature... What has been lacking however, and what this text aims to provide is a coherent critique based on detailed case study interdisciplinary research from across Africa. Based largely on the findings of a collaborative research project co-ordinated by the editors from the University of Illinois (but including impressive cross-disciplinary research teams in Burkino Faso, C te D'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Mozambique) this text offers an excellent synthesis field research in some of Africa's sub-humid savannas. It offers a balanced, positive portrayal of the complexities of the interactions between environmental changes and their social, cultural and political causes and implications. The case study chapters portray an image of African farmers and herders as knowledgeable and responsible environmental managers who are actors in people-environment relations, rather than victims of widespread degradation...The wealth of people-environment focused case material is the clear strength of this text. It offers an invaluable hindsight to the intricacies of complex interaction that regulate rural livelihoods for all African farmers...The case study chapters provide a depth of insight and methodological invention, that will make interesting reading for practitioners and academics alike, whilst the introductory chapter offers an accessible introduction for all.' - Andrew Dougill in Leeds African Studies Bulletin