Theme 4: Wildlife--Oral Sessions

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Pastoralists and ranchers have a long history of sustained management of rangelands around the world. Several decades ago, some pastoralists and ranchers started new alliances with environmental organizations, businesses and government agencies to diversify their approaches to land management to include what can be called ‘conservation’. These efforts highlight conserving aspects of rangeland ecosystems, but often have an equal or greater emphasis on supporting pastoral livelihoods and culture. This paper asks: What types of innovations are pastoralists now pursuing in ‘conservation’? How are these innovations performing?

This paper provides a synthesis of some of the types of conservation innovations being led by pastoralists and ranchers around the world. In rangelands that are privately owned, much of the innovation focuses on management practices, like rangeland restoration, regenerative ranching, education, and herding strategies. But some private landowners are taking down fences or herding animals across pastures. In the majority of the world’s rangelands, which are commonly managed, conservation innovations emphasize new locally-led governance regimes and institutional innovations. These often build upon and strengthen traditional pastoral management practices and institutions. The most impactful conservation innovations, in the face of urban spread and development, may be those that either maintain the ability of pastoralists and ranchers to keep the land open or allow them to un-fragment fragmented land and knit it back together. Unfortunately, social and ecological outcomes of conservation efforts are rarely assessed over the long term, so it is unclear how impactful these innovations are. Continuing challenges in these initiatives include how to ensure all pastoralists and ranchers benefit (resource-limited pastoralists, women, youth), how to adapt given accelerating climate change, and how conservation innovations can increase the bottom line of ranchers.

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Conservation Innovation in Pastoral Lands around the Globe: Challenges, Lessons and Opportunities

Pastoralists and ranchers have a long history of sustained management of rangelands around the world. Several decades ago, some pastoralists and ranchers started new alliances with environmental organizations, businesses and government agencies to diversify their approaches to land management to include what can be called ‘conservation’. These efforts highlight conserving aspects of rangeland ecosystems, but often have an equal or greater emphasis on supporting pastoral livelihoods and culture. This paper asks: What types of innovations are pastoralists now pursuing in ‘conservation’? How are these innovations performing?

This paper provides a synthesis of some of the types of conservation innovations being led by pastoralists and ranchers around the world. In rangelands that are privately owned, much of the innovation focuses on management practices, like rangeland restoration, regenerative ranching, education, and herding strategies. But some private landowners are taking down fences or herding animals across pastures. In the majority of the world’s rangelands, which are commonly managed, conservation innovations emphasize new locally-led governance regimes and institutional innovations. These often build upon and strengthen traditional pastoral management practices and institutions. The most impactful conservation innovations, in the face of urban spread and development, may be those that either maintain the ability of pastoralists and ranchers to keep the land open or allow them to un-fragment fragmented land and knit it back together. Unfortunately, social and ecological outcomes of conservation efforts are rarely assessed over the long term, so it is unclear how impactful these innovations are. Continuing challenges in these initiatives include how to ensure all pastoralists and ranchers benefit (resource-limited pastoralists, women, youth), how to adapt given accelerating climate change, and how conservation innovations can increase the bottom line of ranchers.