Capacity building for the integration of environmental planning into land reform: an assessment of a national programme
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In 1994 the South African government embarked on a land reform programme to redistribute and return land to previously deprived and displaced communities and individuals. Concerns have, however, been raised about the impact of land reform on the environment and its natural resources. The Department of Land Affairs (DLA) has attempted to deal with this problem through the National Training Programme, which was specifically initiated to develop capacity among officials of the DLA to integrate environmental planning into the land reform programme. This study assesses the National Training Programme to determine whether the participants who attended the Nationa lTraining Programme are in fact integrating environmental planning into land reform projects. To achieve this aim a qualitative research methodology is used, which involves both the survey based method and a case study approach. From the literature review there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the enormous pressure on the land and the lack of environmental knowledge are the major contributors to environmental degradation in South Africa. The study points out that the South African experience suggests that land reform cannot be sustainable without adequate provision for environmental planning. In its assessment of the National Training Programme, the study finds that, although the participants had gained self-confidence and a positive attitude towards the environment, this has not been applied in practice. Of significance also is the fact that, given the evidence which indicates that where land reform takes place land resources might be degraded, the study clearly demonstrates how environmental planning has in practice been neglected by the DLA, due to a lack of capacity. In view of the outcomes of the assessment of the National Training Programme, the study recommends that further research be undertaken to investigate and indicate the extent and the rate of land degradation as a result of the neglect of environmental concerns in the land reform programme.