The two papers in this volume (together with those in the accompanying Network paper 81) were originally presented at a conference held at ODI in June 1997. The objective of the conference – which was entitled ‘Ghana and Zimbabwe: options for change’ – was to bring together and discuss various of the studies of aspects of rural livelihoods which are currently in progress in these countries. The papers dealing with Ghana will be published in book format in 1998.
At the conference a particular emphasis was placed on semi-arid areas; in Zimbabwe many of these are only now beginning to recover from the prolonged drought of the early 1990s. Paper 82a presents a broad perspective on biodiversity in farming systems, particularly within Africa. It argues that until recently agricultural land has been seen as ‘off limits’ in biodiversity surveys, but that new studies suggest that in some types of farming system, diversity may be as great or greater than in the adjacent ‘wild’ land. For this and other reasons it is of considerable importance to develop the skills to understand agricultural biodiversity. Paper 82b considers the Rwenya basin in north east Zimbabwe from the point of view of its potential for wildlife conservation. It reviews existing domestic livestock systems in the area and assesses the present and potential future impact of livestock keeping in local communities on the Rwenya reserve.