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Using A Social-ecological Regime Shift Approach to Understand the Transition from Livestock to Game Farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

1
Center for Complex Systems in Transition (CST), School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602, South Africa
2
Stockholm Resilience Center, 106 19 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040097 (registering DOI)
Received: 9 February 2020 / Revised: 23 March 2020 / Accepted: 23 March 2020 / Published: 26 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Land Systems and Global Change)
This study explored the shift in land use from livestock farming to game farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, from a social-ecological regime shift perspective. A regime shift can be defined as a large, persistent change in the structure and function of the intertwined social and ecological components of a landscape. This research focused on the Amakhala game reserve as a case study to understand how the shift affected the provision of ecosystem services and human wellbeing. We used remote sensing techniques to quantify changes in vegetation and found evidence of vegetation recovery following the shift. We then conducted interviews with both landowners and farmworkers and used participatory mapping to understand their perceptions of the main drivers and social-ecological impacts of the shift in land use. Social narratives revealed stark differences in different stakeholders’ perceptions, highlighting that the change in land use had varied implications for, and were perceived differently by, different stakeholders. Farmworkers emphasized changes in social structures that weakened community bonds and erased valued connections to the land. At the same time, they increased employment of women, skills development, and increased wages as benefits of the new game farming regime. Landowners, on the other hand, indicated financial gains from the land use change. The transition therefore resulted in trade-offs that surfaced as social, economic, and cultural losses and gains. These changes, especially in social relationships and community structures, have implications for resilience and possible future pathways of development in the region.
Keywords: regime shift; Amakhala; social-ecological system; land use change; ecosystem services; human wellbeing; trade-offs regime shift; Amakhala; social-ecological system; land use change; ecosystem services; human wellbeing; trade-offs
MDPI and ACS Style

Achieng, T.; Maciejewski, K.; Dyer, M.; Biggs, R. Using A Social-ecological Regime Shift Approach to Understand the Transition from Livestock to Game Farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Land 2020, 9, 97.

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