The success of rural development schemes in Africa, particularly those involving land, is heavily dependent on understanding the local ecology. Any farmer knows this, yet rarely has development project design catered adequately for the vicissitudes of the African environment. Althoughenvironmental unpredictability was recognized in the temperate zone by the mid-nineteenth century, the ecological theory which was subsequently developed and most widely accepted, was based on concepts of norms and equilibria. History has shown that the application of such ecological assumptions toAfrican environments is wholly inappropriate. This book argues that many methods used by West African smallholder farmers and pastoralists are properly adapted to the region's unpredictable physical environment. Field examples from the semi-arid and humid zones demonstrate the nature of environmental variability, and the skill of indigenousfarmers and pastoralists in exploiting this. It is thus argued that development planners should, where possible, model development schemes on the more successful, ecologically sound methods of indigenous land management.