The widely-held notion that Botswana's communally-managed rangelands are degraded plays a significant role in determining rural development policy. Under the pretext of stopping range degradation and increasing livestock productivity the Government of Botswana is determined to transfer the control over vast tracts of land from communities to individuals. Because of the high social cost of this trend, the notion that the country's rangelands are degraded is being questioned. A recent paper (White 1992) argues that Botswana's rangelands show no symptoms of degradation at all.
I wrote this paper in an attempt to dispel some of the confusion surrounding the application of the range degradation concept in Botswana. To accomplish this I pursued three objectives. First, to present the current thinking of range ecologists vis-a-vis range degradation. Second, to dismiss recent arguments that range degradation in Botswana is insignificant. Third, to present an argument linking the livestock industry to ecosystem level degradation of the Kalahari.