Plenary and Keynote Sessions

Description

Pastoralism is one of the most sustainable production systems worldwide and plays a major role in safeguarding ecosystem services and biodiversity in rangelands. The unique biological and cultural diversity of rangelands contributes to goods, services and knowledge that benefit humans also beyond the herding communities.

Yet data currently available on grassland, forestry, agriculture and livestock are inadequate for informing policymaking on rangeland-based livestock systems. A review of global environmental assessments, online databases, peer-reviewed literature and international project documents showed that available information seldom disaggregates rangelands from other ecosystems or pastoralists from other rural dwellers. Few peer-reviewed publications address pastoral and rangeland issues combined. While some international projects present contextualised information on cases of pastoralism and rangelands, most do not share the data on their websites.

A challenge encountered when seeking information is the inconsistency in defining pastoralists and rangelands. Estimates of the total number of pastoralists vary from 22 million to over half a billion; estimates of area covered by rangelands vary from 18% to 80% of the world’s land surface. The variation in definitions and lack of disaggregation of data lead to significant knowledge gaps on the condition and trends of pastoralism and rangelands.

These therefore tend to be devalued. Underrating benefits of livestock mobility and inaccurate data on rangeland degradation could cause governments to blame and dismantle traditionally sustainable pastoral systems – in other words, ‘fix’ something that’s not broken. Without good data on pastoralists and rangelands, the impacts of current policies on these livelihoods and ecosystems cannot be assessed, and sustainable use and management of rangelands for improved livelihoods may be hindered.

Improving the information base is high on the agenda of the initiative for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists to increase global awareness of the importance of rangelands and pastoralists for livelihoods and healthy ecosystems.

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Exploring the Information Base Needed for Sustainable Management of Rangeland Resources for Improved Livelihoods

Pastoralism is one of the most sustainable production systems worldwide and plays a major role in safeguarding ecosystem services and biodiversity in rangelands. The unique biological and cultural diversity of rangelands contributes to goods, services and knowledge that benefit humans also beyond the herding communities.

Yet data currently available on grassland, forestry, agriculture and livestock are inadequate for informing policymaking on rangeland-based livestock systems. A review of global environmental assessments, online databases, peer-reviewed literature and international project documents showed that available information seldom disaggregates rangelands from other ecosystems or pastoralists from other rural dwellers. Few peer-reviewed publications address pastoral and rangeland issues combined. While some international projects present contextualised information on cases of pastoralism and rangelands, most do not share the data on their websites.

A challenge encountered when seeking information is the inconsistency in defining pastoralists and rangelands. Estimates of the total number of pastoralists vary from 22 million to over half a billion; estimates of area covered by rangelands vary from 18% to 80% of the world’s land surface. The variation in definitions and lack of disaggregation of data lead to significant knowledge gaps on the condition and trends of pastoralism and rangelands.

These therefore tend to be devalued. Underrating benefits of livestock mobility and inaccurate data on rangeland degradation could cause governments to blame and dismantle traditionally sustainable pastoral systems – in other words, ‘fix’ something that’s not broken. Without good data on pastoralists and rangelands, the impacts of current policies on these livelihoods and ecosystems cannot be assessed, and sustainable use and management of rangelands for improved livelihoods may be hindered.

Improving the information base is high on the agenda of the initiative for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists to increase global awareness of the importance of rangelands and pastoralists for livelihoods and healthy ecosystems.