Evolution of land policies and legislation in Malawi and Zimbabwe: implications for forestry development

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This paper describes the effects of the colonial and post-colonial land policies and legislation on the management and utilisation of natural woodlands in Malawi and Zimbabwe. The two countries share similar patterns of land ownership; customary or tribal trust land designated by colonial governments for settlement and cultivation by the indigeneous populations; private land mostly alienated from local communities for commercial farming and ranching; initially by white settlers and later officially sanctioned by post-colonial governments; and public land appropriated by governments for purposes of establishing national parks and forest reserves. The private and public land tenure, did not only reduce the size of land available to indigeneous communities for agricultural and non-agricultural activities, but also compromised the roles and power of traditional authorities in controlling and managing natural resources including miombo woodlands. The major factors, which appear to have contributed to rapid deforestation and land degradation, include increases in population pressure, poverty and failure by governments to urgently provide effective policy guidelines on land management and administration regarding the utilisation of forests and natural resources.

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