South Africa has hundreds of thousands of hectares of heavily populated and badly degraded landscapes. Past attempts at land management have been either through avoidance or the top-down imposition of “betterment” schemes. Participatory methods offer a new opportunity for communities living within these catchments to share their knowledge and to become involved in planning and implementing the management process. This paper discusses the use of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in a catchment rehabilitation programme in rural KwaZulu/Natal, the lessons learnt and the prospects for wider application.