23 June 2024
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Rangelands Underestimated: An Overview of the Report

The recent report on the demise of rangelands sheds light on the severe underestimation of the degradation these crucial environments are facing worldwide. Rangelands, which include vast expanses of natural grasslands, scrublands, deserts, and wetlands, are essential for supporting both livestock and wild animals. However, the report reveals that as much as half of all rangelands are believed to be degraded, threatening the livelihoods of pastoralist communities and the health of the planet.

Rangelands, spanning from the Arctic to the tropics, play a vital role in combatting climate change by locking away carbon in the soil and promoting the growth of vegetation that absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. Traditional farming practices, such as rotating grazing areas and conserving resources, have historically contributed to maintaining the health of rangelands. However, factors like climate change, urbanization, population growth, and land conversion for agriculture have accelerated their deterioration.

The Significance of Rangelands in Global Ecosystems

The report emphasizes that healthy rangelands are not only crucial for pastoralist communities but also serve as biodiversity hotspots, providing habitats for iconic wildlife and supporting one-sixth of the world’s food production. Additionally, rangelands are essential for many national economies and are deeply intertwined with the cultural heritage of half a billion pastoralist people across more than 100 countries.

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Death by a Million Hooves

Despite their ecological, economic, and cultural importance, rangelands have been undervalued and overlooked in environmental assessments. The lead author of the report, Pedro Maria Herrera Calvo, pointed out that the current estimates of rangeland degradation, around 25 percent, are significantly underestimated. The actual degradation may be as high as 35 to 50 percent, highlighting the urgent need for action to protect these vital landscapes.

The Urgent Call for Protection and Sustainable Management

The report calls for policies that prioritize the protection of rangelands and better support the pastoralist communities who have a deep understanding of these environments. It stresses the importance of involving nomadic communities in decision-making processes to ensure sustainable management practices that preserve the health and integrity of rangelands.

Furthermore, the report warns against the consequences of neglecting rangelands and the wisdom of those who have lived harmoniously with these landscapes for generations. Ignoring the voices of pastoralist communities and pushing them off their lands would not only threaten the future of rangelands but also jeopardize the livelihoods and cultures of those who depend on these ecosystems.

Looking Ahead: A Call to Action

In conclusion, the report’s findings underscore the urgent need to address the underestimated demise of rangelands and take meaningful steps to protect and restore these critical environments. It calls for a shift towards policies that prioritize sustainable land management, biodiversity conservation, and the empowerment of pastoralist communities.

As humanity faces the growing challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, the preservation of rangelands emerges as a key priority for ensuring a sustainable future for both people and the planet. By heeding the warnings of this report and taking decisive action to safeguard rangelands, we can work towards a more resilient and environmentally conscious world for generations to come.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.unccd.int/ 2. https://www.iucn.org/ 3. https://www.fao.org/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Rangelands, Climate change, Pastoralism

Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras. Rangelands do not include forests lacking grazable understory vegetation, barren desert, farmland, or land covered...
Read more: Rangeland

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is primarily caused by humans burning fossil fuels since...
Read more: Climate change

Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals (known as "livestock") are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The animal species involved include cattle, camels, goats, yaks, llamas, reindeer, horses, and sheep. Pastoralism occurs in...
Read more: Pastoralism

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