On a continent where the livelihoods of the majority of Africans are closely

linked to the health of the natural environment, and where poverty and land

degradation has increased in recent decades, there is a critical need for

sustainable management of the resource base and the ecosystem services that

this provides. Most southern African countries already have environmental

assessment and management policies and legislation in place and specific

provision for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) exists in a number of

them. Despite these trends, however, the opportunities that SEA can offer to

facilitate sustainable development are not being realized.