Journal Article

Opportunistic and conservative pastoral strategies: some economic arguments

Published on 1 June 2006

This paper revisits the debate over the relative effectiveness of ‘conservative’ and ‘opportunistic’ stocking strategies for African pastoral rangelands. The paper is based on a reassessment of the results of an earlier paper in this journal by Campbell et al. (2000) [Campbell, B.M., Dore, D., Luckert, M., Mukamuri, B., Gambiza, J., 2000. Economic comparisons of livestock production in communal grazing areas of Zimbabwe. Ecol. Econ., 33, 413–438] which argued that the advocacy of opportunistic strategies by the ‘new range science’ was misplaced. This paper questions some of the assumptions of this scenario modelling effort, both in terms of causal structure and parameter estimates. By developing a mimic model and using data from the same site–a dryland communal area in southern Zimbabwe–this paper shows how the conclusions of the earlier paper were premature. The need for sensitivity analysis in assessing model findings is emphasised if policy conclusions, with potentially major impacts on people’s livelihoods, are to be drawn. A brief discussion of the implications of this reassessment, including more broadly the limitations and prospects of economic–ecological modelling in policymaking for rangeland management, concludes the paper.


Image of Ian Scoones

Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

Sandford, S., and Scoones, I.
Ecological Economics, issue 58.1