Economic and ecological carrying capacity: applications to pastoral systems in Zimbabwe

  • Ian Scoones


The term ‘carrying capacity’ (CC) is the source of much confusion. This chapter will hopefully clarify some of the issues surrounding the distinctions between economic and ecological carrying capacity, making the implications for the policy debate clearer.


Communal Area National Archive Grazing Area Ecological Sustainability Beef Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abel, N. and Blaikie, P. (1989) Land degradation, stocking rates and conservation policies for the communal rangelands of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Land Degradation and Rehabilitation, 1, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agritex. (1986) Planning document for Indava ward grazing scheme. Unpublished mimeo. Agritex, Zvishavane.Google Scholar
  3. Anon (undated) Veld condition and grazing capacity assessments. Veld Management Resource 19, Agritex Training Manual.Google Scholar
  4. Behnke, R. (1985) Measuring the benefits of subsistence versus commercial livestock production in Africa. Agricultural Systems, 16, 109–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Behnke, R. and Scoones, I. (1992) Rethinking Range Ecology: Implications for Rangeland Management in Africa, Environmental Working Paper, 53, Word Bank, Washington.Google Scholar
  6. Caughley, G. (1983) Working with ecological ideas. Guidelines for the management of large mammals in African conservation areas (ed. A Ferrar) SANSP Report, No 69.Google Scholar
  7. Coughenour, M.B., Ellis, J.E., Swift, D.M. et al (1985) Energy extraction and use in a nomadic pastoral ecosystem. Science, 230, 619–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Denny, R.P. and Barnes, D.L. (1977) Trials of multi paddock systems on veld 3. A comparison of six grazing procedures at two stocking rates. Rhod. J. Agric. Res. 15, 129–42.Google Scholar
  9. Dye, P.J. and Spear, P.T. (1982) The effects of bush clearing and rainfall variability on grass yield and composition in SW Zimbabwe. Zimb. J. Agric. Res., 20, 103–18.Google Scholar
  10. Dyson-Hudson, N. (1984) Adaptive resource use by African pastoralists. Ecology in Practice: Part 1 Ecosystem Management, (eds F. DiCastri, F.W.G. Baker, and M. Hadley), UNESCO, Paris.Google Scholar
  11. Ellis, J. and Swift, D. (1988) Stability of African pastoral ecosystems: alternate paradigms and implications for development. Journal of Range Management, 41, 450–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hayle, D.G. (1932) Preliminary notes on intensity of grazing experiment. Rhod. Agric. J. 19, 641–5.Google Scholar
  13. Ivy, P. (1969) Veld condition assessments. Proc of Conex Veld Management Conferences in Bulawayo, pp 105–12; also, Agritex Veld Management Resource 17.Google Scholar
  14. Jones, R.J. and Sandland, R.L. (1974) The relation between animal gain and stocking rate. Derivation of the relation from the results of grazing trials. J. Agric. Sci. (Camb.), 83, 335–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennan, T. (1969) Review of research into the cattle-grass relation. Proc Conex Veld Management Conference, Bulawayo.Google Scholar
  16. Kennard, D.G. and Walker, B.H. (1973) Relationships between tree canopy cover and Panicum maximum in the vicinity of Fort Victoria. Rhodesian J. Agricultural Research, 11, 145–53.Google Scholar
  17. McNaughton, S. (1985) Ecology of a grazing ecosystem: the Serengeti. Ecological Monographs, 55, 259–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Penning de Vries, F.W.T. and Djiteye, M.A. (eds) (1982) La productivité des pasturages Sahelians: une étude des sols, des végétations, et de l’exploitation de cette resource naturelle, Pudoc, Wageningen.Google Scholar
  19. Pole-Evans, I.B. (1932) Pastures and their management. Rhodesian Agriculture J. 19, 912–20.Google Scholar
  20. Rattray, J.M. (1960) The habit, distribution, habitat, forage value and veld indicator value of the commoner Southern Rhodesian grasses. Rhodesian Agriculture J, 57, 424.Google Scholar
  21. de Ridder, N. and Wagenaar, K (1986). Energy and protein balances in traditional livestock systems and ranching in eastern Botswana. Agricultural Systems, 20, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sandford, S. (1982a). Livestock in the communal areas of Zimbabwe. Report prepared for the Ministry of Lands Resettlement and Rural Development. ODI, London.Google Scholar
  23. Sandford, S (1982b). Pastoral strategies and desertification: opportunism and conservation in drylands in Desertification and Development: Dryland Ecology in Social Perspective, (eds B. Spooner and H. Mann), Academic Press, London, pp. 61–80.Google Scholar
  24. Scoones, I. (1989a). Economic and ecological carrying capacity. Implications for livestock development in the dryland communal areas of Zimbabwe. ODI Pastoral Development Network Paper 27b, Overseas Development Institute, London.Google Scholar
  25. Scoones, I. (1989b). Patch use by cattle in dryland Zimbabwe: farmer knowledge and ecological theory. ODI Pastoral Network Development Paper, 28b. ODI, London.Google Scholar
  26. Scoones, I. (1990) Livestock populations and the household economy: a case study from southern Zimbabwe. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London.Google Scholar
  27. Scoones, I. (1993). Why are there so many animals? Cattle population dynamics in the communal areas of Zimbabwe. In: Range Ecology at Disequilibrium: new models of natural variability and pastoral adaptation in African savannas (eds R. Behnke, I. Scoones and C. Keven). Overseas Development Institute, London.Google Scholar
  28. Scoones, I. (1992a). Land degradation and livestock production in Zimbabwe’s communal areas. Land Degradation and Rehabilitation, 3, 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scoones, I. (1992b). The economic value of livestock in the communal areas of Zimbabwe. Agricultural Systems, 39, 339–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scoones, I. (forthcoming). Land and cattle in Zimbabwe: exploring different perspectives in the livestock policy debate, in A Question of Perspective: Re-interpreting Environmental and Social Relations in Zimbabwe (ed. M. Drinkwater) James Currey, London.Google Scholar
  31. Scoones, I. and Cousins, B. (1991) Key resources for agriculture and grazing: the struggle for control over dambo resources in Zimbabwe, in Wetlands in Drylands. The Agroecology of Savanna Systems in Africa, (ed. I. Scoones.), Drylands Programme, IIED, London.Google Scholar
  32. Sinclair, A. and Norton-Griffiths, M. (1979) Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  33. Vorster, L. (1960). The influence of prolonged seasonal defoliation on veld yields. Proceedings of the Grasslands Society of Southern Africa, 10, 119–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Watt, M. (1913) The dangers and prevention of soil erosion. Rhodesian Agriculture J. 10, 5.Google Scholar
  35. Wilson, K. (1988) Indigenous conservation in Zimbabwe: soil erosion, land-use planning and rural life. Paper presented to the African Studies Association conference, Cambridge, September 1988.Google Scholar
  36. Zimbabwe Government (1986) First Five Year Development Plan, 1986–1990, Government Printer, Harare.Google Scholar
  37. Zimbabwe Government (1987) The National Conservation Strategy: Zimbabwe’s Road to Survival, Natural Resources Board, Harare.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Scoones

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations