This page last updated on 16 July, 2007

The Economic Revolution on Kenya's Rangelands

In my recent seminar at ILRI, Nairobi, March 2007, I looked at the rapid transformation from traditional nomadic pastoralism to a more sedentary, agro-pastoralism with settled cultivation and livestock embedded within the emerging agro-pastoral matrix.

Specifically we see a significant increase in the areas under cultivation, the intensification of livestock production, the near total eradication of wildlife and the rapid evolution of Property Rights from large parcels of land under Group or Communal ownership to small parcels of land under Private ownership.

Spatially and temporally this process of transformation is cascading down the rainfall gradient, progressing faster and more completely in areas of higher agricultural potential compared with areas of lower agricultural potential. It can, however, "jump" down the rainfall gradient where agricultural potential is high - for example along rivers or in swamp areas as in the Loitokitok basin.

The economic drivers for this process of transformation are macro- (national) and micro- (local) economic changes; population growth, especially in urban areas; and marked differentials in the returns to agricultural, livestock and wildlife production.

Great stuff - though I say it myself! Download

Land Conversion in Kenya

A short note on some work in progress on the economic basis for converting land from a less developed state into a more developed state. Big implications for conservation. Download

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Notes on Net Returns to Pastoral Land Uses

A short note on some more work in progress on land use economics in pastoral rangelands. One of the most pervasive problems facing conservationist in East Africa is the development of rangelands for agriculture and intensive livestock production to the detriment of conservation objectives. This note gives some inkling of the sheer power of the economic engine that lies behind this conversion. Download

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The Kiss of Death: or does conservation actually work?

This is a fun paper that I cannot get published anywhere! Quite some time ago now I received a promotion from the Worldwide Fund for Nature to acquire a WWF Visa Card. The appeal waxed eloquent on the troubles and tribulations of the world's wildlife, especially the tiger and, naturally, that wretched panda, while a Mr. Christopher Packham (conservationist) assured us that together we really can make a difference and to please apply for your card today and thus help save our species before it's too late. At the same time Mr. Oliver Tickell summarised in the New Scientist what was clearly a terrific spat within the WWF of how exactly to go about conserving tigers.

All of which set off the following train of thought. Does conservation work? Do the conservation NGOs really know what they are doing? If they do – then why does everything keep getting worse? And what should we, Joe public, look for before giving them more money? No wonder no one will touch the thing. Download

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Some Thoughts on the International Ban on the Ivory Trade

I have always been a bit iffy about international trade bans, for in general their track record is not that good (consider hard drugs, or arms and nuclear material). When applied to products of wild animals, endangered or not, I think it sends out all sorts of wrong signals about their real values, offers no incentives for better management, and places the onus for enforcement on those least likely to be able to enforce it – namely onto overworked, underpaid and untrained customs officers. Download

How Many Wildebeest Do You Need? (Version #1)

I submitted this essay to the Economist/Shell competition two or three years ago now. It discusses the root causes of the conflict between conservation and development, namely the conversion of land from a less developed to a more developed state. Although ideally some dynamic equilibrium should develop in which the benefits of one mitigate against the benefits of the other, policy and institutional failures on the part of Governments ensure that the benefits of development seem always to overwhelm those of conservation. Download

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The Economics of Conservation on Kenya's Rangelands

This is the presentation I have just given at a recent (January '06) symposium at the Zoological Society of London discussing the problems of the conservation of natural habitats and wildlife on rangelands. The picture is pretty bleak. Outside the formally protected areas, wildlife and natural habitats will survive only if the benefits to landowners and landusers from "conservation" equal or surpass those from "development". Outside protected areas conservation is a matter of landuse economics. Download

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... and coming soon some newspaper articles, and some stuff straight off the wall.


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