LAND for LIFE – Public Lecture


Public Lecture – Everyone Welcome!

Saturday 23rd July 2011, at 10am

Venue: WESM, Nature Sanctuary, Lilongwe (opposite Foodworth)

Hosted by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM)


by Professor E. John Wibberley, PhD, FRGS, FRAgS


The title encompasses three meanings from micro to meso to macro levels that are discussed here:

1. Land consists in a living soil ecosystem underpinning nature and needs to be valued and managed as such;

2. Land is the basis for life on earth in that its fertility sustains human livelihoods against poverty;

3. Land tenure may be for duration of life for particular families or nations; ‘land grab’ by foreigners threatens it.


Land resources merit particular evaluation at this time in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) when soil fertility is increasingly vital for food security and climate change mitigation, and yet the financial crisis affecting many countries has made them desperate to generate funds by any means possible, including the irrevocable sale of land. This so-called ‘land grab’ is a burgeoning phenomenon with huge socio-economic livelihood and political stability consequences. Of course, not all investment by outsiders is negative and responsible investment – such as attempted within The Prince’s Rainforest Project – will be acknowledged in the presentation.

The paper explores these issues with a view to raising debate and advocating changes in practice at all levels – from soil to farm to national and international land appraisal – so that the soil resources of each nation might be more profoundly valued and cherished.

Note: The author is an agriculturalist working in both temperate and tropical agriculture, with early research done in soil microbiology.


Professor E. John Wibberley MA, BSc (Hons) MTh, MSc, PhD, Dip Ed, NSch, FRGS, FRAgS is married to Jane since 1969, with two married sons and six grandchildren. He is a Professor of Agriculture & Rural Development, and independent Resource Management Consultant working in the UK and overseas, including RURCON Africa (an otherwise all-African team of Christian Development leaders founded in 1971 and based in Nigeria). He was Chairman of UK Farm Crisis Network (FCN) 1998-2003. Since 2000, he is Hon. Secretary, Council for Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies which seeks to recognise outstanding contributions to UK agricultural/ rural progress. John serves on several Boards, on Exmoor National Park Authority and as a Nominated Member of the RASE Council.

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