Rangelands are land areas with indigenous vegetation, including grass and shrubs, and used as a natural ecosystem for grazing livestock and wildlife. Rangelands occupy nearly half of the world’s land surface and include more than a third of global biodiversity hotspots, as well as habitat for 28% of the world’s endangered species.
Rangelands around the world have been substantially degraded and are now in critical condition. Up to 73 percent of rangelands may be degraded due to a number of factors, including mismanagement, weak governance and a lack of tenure security for pastoralists and other users. Rangelands in many countries remain vulnerable to encroachment and appropriation by governments and outsiders.
Without tenure security, there is little incentive for users to invest in the rehabilitation of damaged rangelands. While rangelands have been managed sustainably by pastoral communities for centuries, conflicts over rangelands have become increasingly common, often as a result poor land management, exploitation, expropriation, encroachment by outsiders, and degradation. Customary and traditional rangelands systems, including nomadic herding, are confronted by a host of challenges, including conservation programs that limit the rangelands available for pastoralists and competition among pastoralists.
Overlapping many of these concerns, drylands, which are tropical and temperate areas where water is scarce, comprise nearly half of the world’s land mass, 72% of which occur in developing countries. Drylands are home to a third of the human population, approximately 2.5 billion people. Dryland populations are often marginalised from development and policy processes, as well as political dialogue.
Much of the world’s rangelands are managed through pastoralism, a system of producing and raising existent in Western U.S., Latin America, Northern and South-Western Europe, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of South Asia and Australia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, pastoral areas cover approximately 19 percent of the total land area, and are home to almost 10 percent of the human population, along with 15 million cattle and large populations of goats, sheep and camels. Pastoralism being an extensive land use system often facilitates co-habitation with wildlife including large mammal species. Pastoralism also contributes other environmental services including maintaining soil fertility and soil carbon and contributing to water regulation and biodiversity conservation. Yet the rights of pastoralists are continually threatened by conflicts with conservation programs and other factors.
To provide greater understanding and awareness of these issues, the Land Portal Foundation and the International Land Coalition (ILC) Rangelands Initiative are publishing a Thematic Portfolio on Rangelands, Drylands, & Pastoralism, which puts the spotlight on key issues, data and information from diverse information sources. This Portfolio provides access to a wide range of indicators and statistics related to rangelands from major global databases, including UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).Relevant news, blogs, debates and events are also published on the Portfolio, providing users with an up-to-date snapshot of the current issues and trends. The Portfolio features 20 profiles of organizations working on these issues, as well as an impressive repository of 2918 publications focused on rangelands.
The Portfolio also showcases a new narrative on rangelands written by Fiona Flintan, Senior Scientist on Rangelands Governance for the International Livestock and Research Institute (ILRI) and Coordinator of the global component of the ILC Rangelands Initiative. This narrative provides a global overview of rangelands issues, and includes a detailed discussion drylands, pastoralism and pastoralists, land tenure and governance in rangelands, livestock routes, land use planning, and international initiatives aimed at protecting rangelands.
Fiona Flintan, Senior Scientist on Rangelands Governance and Coordinator of the ILC Rangelands Initiative, said “It is high time that the significant value and potential of rangelands is fully recognized, optimized and protected for local, national and global gain. When appropriately supported through the development of good governance, land tenure and investments, pastoralism as a land use system has a high comparative advantage over other land uses in these areas where low and/or variable rainfall and other environmental challenges predominate.”
According to Laura Meggiolaro, Coordinator of the Land Portal Foundation, “Land tenure and insecurity in rangelands is a bigger issue than most people realize, We hope this Portfolio on the Rangelands will engender greater understanding of this important issue, which affects the lives of so many pastoralists, both women and men, around the world.”
For more information, please visit: https://landportal.org/book/thematic/rangelands-drylands-pastoralism
The Land Portal Foundation believes access to information is crucial to achieve good land governance and to secure land rights for vulnerable people. We help partners to create and disseminate land governance data and information through linked and open data technologies.
Land and resource loss, and change and fragmentation in the rangelands have increased dramatically in recent years due to both ‘external’ and ‘internal’ influences, including a lack of recognition of land- and resource-ownership rights, poor land-use planning, and privatization processes.