Welcome to PLAAS

PLAAS is widely considered to be the leading research body in Southern Africa in relation to issues of land, natural resource management and rural development. It is a university-based research institute established in 1995 at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and has an impressive track record of high quality research, teaching, and policy engagement over the past two decades. Its research findings are widely cited, both locally and globally, and its senior researchers have played an influential role in many policy processes in the post-apartheid period. PLAAS offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Land and Agrarian Studies, as well as research-based Masters and PhD degrees, and attracts students from across Africa. Many PLAAS alumni occupy important positions in government, both locally and in neighbouring states. Key to the success of PLAAS is its insistence on independent, rigorous and critical research, which provides a strong evidence base for policy advocacy and informs its teaching programme.

Research Areas


Our research covers diverse areas, ranging from land and tenure reform,  land investment and agro-food restructuring, fisheries and ecosystem management, to social protection and informal self employment. In all this work, our key focus is on the causes and dynamics of inequality and structural poverty, on the economic and social agency of poor...

Latest Publication

PLAAS Working Paper: Unravelling the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ question, by Michael Aliber

(Draft chapter for ‘Land Divided Land Restored. Land Reform in South Africa for the 21st  Century’ edited by Ben Cousins and Cherryl Walker, Jacana Media, 2015) 

Events / News

NELGA Short Course Training

  Across Africa, the majority of both rural and urban residents have insecure tenure rights, either in law or in practice. They face the legacy of land dispossession, colonial legal codes, contested...

More News

Prof Ben Cousins' article in Business Day: Individual title can obstruct access by the poor to urban and rural land

Prof Ben Cousins, 31 Aug

Policies to secure land rights should begin by improving existing systems rather than replacing them