In South Africa, the state has failed to deliver cleaner and more reliable energy, efficient transport infrastructure and greater security. The private sector has filled some of the gaps – but that’s not in everyone’s interests. Lawrence Hamilton argues that this trend is unlikely to change under the envisaged new national coalition government.

Almost one quarter of Africa’s land has been damaged. The main drivers have been mining, floods, drought, fire, deforestation and invasive plants. Invasive plants are particularly damaging because they use up water resources and squeeze out indigenous vegetation. Environmental scientist Mlungele Nsikani shares insights into this threat and what can be done about it.

The restoration of land is one of the key themes for world environment day, celebrated tomorrow. In this newsletter we’ve included several other articles from our archives that might be of interest.

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Thabo Leshilo

Politics + Society

South Africa: coalition government won’t fix past failures – expect the private sector to play a bigger role in delivering power, transport and security

Lawrence Hamilton, University of the Witwatersrand

Solutions driven by the private sector are only for those who can pay, and also end up driving public priorities.

Nearly 25% of land in Africa has been damaged – what’s to blame, and what can be done

Mlungele M. Nsikani, South African National Biodiversity Institute

More than 700 million hectares of land in Africa has been degraded by human activity. Everyone can get involved in restoring the ecology.

Chad’s Mahamat Deby doubles down on authoritarian rule in wake of election victory

Helga Dickow, University of Freiburg

Chadians are bracing themselves for more years of authoritarian rule.

Buying and selling forest carbon as a commodity is dangerous if it trumps other environmental and social uses – new report

Constance McDermott, University of Oxford; Eric Kumeh Mensah, University of Oxford; Mark Hirons, University of Oxford

The carbon stored by forests can be bought by polluting companies to offset their emissions. This can displace communities who depend on natural forests for their livelihoods.

South Africa: new Drakensberg nature reserve will protect ancient rock art, wildlife, livelihoods, grasslands and water

Caitlin Blaser Mapitsa, University of the Witwatersrand

A massive new nature reserve has just been declared in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range. It’s good news for communities, landowners, the land and local wildlife.

  • How countries alongside the Sahara can restore productive land faster

    Lars Laestadius, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Chris Reij, World Resources Institute; Dennis Garrity, Center for International Forestry Research – World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF)

    Africa’s Great Green Wall must immediately speed up to meet the needs of people along the edges of the Sahara Desert.

  • Africa’s drylands are getting more support. How to make the most of this

    Anja Gassner, Center for International Forestry Research – World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF); Philip Dobie, Center for International Forestry Research – World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF); Robert Nasi, Centre for International Forestry Research

    A changing climate threatens the balance that communities in drylands have created.

Horn of Africa droughts: how a network of groundwater bores could help – study

Bradley Hiller, University of Cambridge

Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, South Sudan and Uganda are investigating whether deep groundwater bores could support drought stricken communities. Could a networked approach help?

From our international editions

Human culture is changing too fast for evolution to catch up – here’s how it may affect you

Jose Yong, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Human culture has changed too fast for evolution to keep up.


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