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Changing Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: Past Influences and Future Trajectories

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Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
2
Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, 515 General Services Building, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Claudia A. Radel and Jacqueline M. Vadjunec
Land 2015, 4(4), 1060-1089; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4041060
Received: 30 June 2015 / Revised: 20 October 2015 / Accepted: 5 November 2015 / Published: 19 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods)
This paper seeks to understand the drivers and pathways of local livelihood change and the prospects for transformation towards a more sustainable future. Data are used from several studies, and a participatory social learning process, which formed part of a larger project in two sites in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Secondary information from a wealth of related work is used to place our results within the historic context and more general trends in the country. Findings indicate that livelihoods in the rural Eastern Cape are on new trajectories. Agricultural production has declined markedly, at a time when the need for diversification of livelihoods and food security seems to be at a premium. This decline is driven by a suite of drivers that interact with, and are influenced by, other changes and stresses affecting local livelihoods. We distil out the factors, ranging from historical processes to national policies and local dynamics, that hamper peoples’ motivation and ability to respond to locally identified vulnerabilities and, which, when taken together, could drive households into a trap. We end by considering the transformations required to help local people evade traps and progress towards a more promising future in a context of increasing uncertainty. View Full-Text
Keywords: livelihoods; farming; traps; transformation; South Africa; landscapes; poverty; change; multiple stressors; Eastern Cape livelihoods; farming; traps; transformation; South Africa; landscapes; poverty; change; multiple stressors; Eastern Cape
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Shackleton, S.; Luckert, M. Changing Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: Past Influences and Future Trajectories. Land 2015, 4, 1060-1089.

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