This special feature presents several papers generated under the EUfunded ‘Cross Sectoral Commons Governance in Southern Africa’ (CROSCOG) project. The feature builds on knowledge generated in case studies which explored existing integrated resource knowledge and governance practices of rural people living in Southern African commons. In earlier generations, especially during the pre-colonial periods, most Southern African societies developed quite effective indigenous institutions for the management of entire landscapes and their component ecosystems, when this was in their interest. Few of these integrated Southern African systems are effective today as they have gone through massive changes, for example due to colonial influences, the increased role of the market and/or conflicts over use and access to natural resources. Meanwhile, most efforts to rebuild or affirm (the management of) the commons through various initiatives, have been specific to certain resources or localised areas. Conversely, the smaller number of ecosystem-wide land use planning initiatives that sought to enhance overall environmental health have been dominated by technical, antipolitical approaches that failed to understood the differential roles of resources in the spectrum of local livelihoods, and failed to achieve the required broader reinforcement of local governance. This introduction and the papers it introduces explore opportunities and challenges with respect to integrating scale – landscapes, ecosystems, and governing systems – into the local commons.

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ISS Staff Group 4: Rural Development, Environment and Population
International Journal of the Commons
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Magole, L, Turner, S.D, & Büscher, B.E. (2010). Editorial: Towards an effective commons governance system in Southern Africa?. International Journal of the Commons, 4(2), 602–620. Retrieved from