Land policies in Africa have often been predicated on marginalising or extinguishing customary landtenure systems in favour of introducing more ‘efficient’ formal systems of individual titling andregistration of land. This approach has been marked by its frequent failure and high cost. In Tanzania,recently introduced land laws instead now recognise customary systems and set out a basis forincorporating them in a village-based land tenure system. Yet there is growing apprehension thatplacing an emphasis on recognising customary practices will compound the growing trend of socialdifferentiation, elite capture and the increasing numbers of landless poor. These issues can be betterunderstood through investigating who benefits and loses from instances of ‘negotiability’ in access toland at a local level, particularly in the light of broader political economic and social changes.Based on field work carried out in central Tanzania, the study traces the socio-environmental outcomesof herders and farmers living in the Idodi rangelands. Over the last 50 years, a substantial portion ofthese rangelands have been taken over by the state for the creation of wildlife conservation areas. Theremaining parts of the rangelands have been settled by successive waves of farmers and herders,mainly associated with evictions from the creation of protected areas, other state-perpetrated landalienations in northern Tanzania, and state-enforced villagisation. Over time, the continued immigrationof people into the Idodi villages has added to an already growing population, such that today, keyresources - fertile arable land, grazing and water - are in increasingly short supply. The story of theIdodi rangelands reflects developments occurring in many other parts of Tanzania. In particular,wetland areas in the dryland rangelands have become a focus of in-migration and heightenedcompetition for land and water, as farmers and herders alike converge on these centres of relativelyhigh fertility and productivity. Often, as in the Idodi rangelands, competition for land and water hasgrown sufficiently great for conflict to break out in these polyethnic dryland-wetlands.The social negotiability of land has remained central for herders’ access to key land and landedresources. In the Idodi rangelands, herders have used their growing social relations with farmer-basedcentres of power to avoid conflict and maintain access to farmland. Contrastingly conflict over land hasoccurred when other herders have not sufficiently invested in social relations with farmers over access toland. Herders continue to remain squatters - albeit socially legitimate ones - on village land, withoutfirm rights to rangeland resources. In recent years strong social relations have not been sufficient toguarantee herders’ security in the landscape. It is clear that the land entitlements of marginalisedherder groups may often need safeguarding by the government, but it less clear what the bestapproach may be. In Idodi, a more overt expression of pastoralists’ rights to land would likely lead topolarisation between farmer and herder, and an increase in conflict and competition over land. Toolittle consideration has been given by the government to enabling the pluralistic yet equitabledevelopment of locally diverse customary understandings of land tenure. The continued increase incompetition and conflict over access to land - as has occurred in Idodi - strongly suggests that priorityshould to be given in land reform processes to the development of locally legitimate dispute resolutionfora that focus on negotiated outcomes wherever imposed adjudicatory decisions can be avoided.