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Rangelands cover about 54% of the earth’s surface and are essential for agricultural and livestock production, environmental protection and the in-situ conservation of genetic resources. Despite providing services that support life on earth, rangelands have been neglected to a large extent when compared to other types of ecosystems. This paper provides an overview of the importance of rangelands in conserving biodiversity and supporting the livelihoods of millions of people globally. Rangelands have lost ecological integrity due to unsustainable anthropogenic land-use changes and impacts. It is estimated that over 80% of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are either not adequately protected or not protected at all. The rangeland ecosystems constitute over 43% of KBAs covered by terrestrial protected areas globally. The biodiversity-agriculture nexus show that Agriculture is the leading driver of global land-use changes and biodiversity loss, accounting for up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss, up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and use up to 70 per cent of freshwater (UN 2021). Policy agents and investors should prioritise the sustainable utilisation of rangeland ecosystem goods and services to ensure that the issues of degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are addressed globally. Investment in landscape restoration interventions to improve ecosystem services such as pollination, better water quality or soil fertility must become issues of high priority in rangelands.

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Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in Rangelands: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities

Rangelands cover about 54% of the earth’s surface and are essential for agricultural and livestock production, environmental protection and the in-situ conservation of genetic resources. Despite providing services that support life on earth, rangelands have been neglected to a large extent when compared to other types of ecosystems. This paper provides an overview of the importance of rangelands in conserving biodiversity and supporting the livelihoods of millions of people globally. Rangelands have lost ecological integrity due to unsustainable anthropogenic land-use changes and impacts. It is estimated that over 80% of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are either not adequately protected or not protected at all. The rangeland ecosystems constitute over 43% of KBAs covered by terrestrial protected areas globally. The biodiversity-agriculture nexus show that Agriculture is the leading driver of global land-use changes and biodiversity loss, accounting for up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss, up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and use up to 70 per cent of freshwater (UN 2021). Policy agents and investors should prioritise the sustainable utilisation of rangeland ecosystem goods and services to ensure that the issues of degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are addressed globally. Investment in landscape restoration interventions to improve ecosystem services such as pollination, better water quality or soil fertility must become issues of high priority in rangelands.