Degradation of Rangelands a Threat to Environment

Continued degradation of rangelands will have a far-reaching impact on the environment. According to a report titled “Carbon Finance in Rangelands: An assessment of Potential in Communal Rangelands” rangelands are the largest land use type, covering about 40% of the world’s land surface and have the potential to play a big role in carbon sequestration, yet they continue to be viewed as unproductive. “In many countries, rangelands are misunderstood as under- or non-productive lands and pastoralism seen as backward, of little economic value, and often also environmentally destructive. In this context, there is a risk that pastoralists’ grazing rights are significantly altered in the framework of rangeland carbon finance projects,” says the report based on a study supported by the World Initiative on Sustainable pastoralism (WISP), the Global Environment Facility, UNDP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Livestock and Wildlife Photo: IUCNGrace J. Chepkwony

The report recommends the development of rangeland carbon assets to alleviate the environmental impacts of green house gases. “High initial costs will be incurred by the early rangeland carbon sequestration pilot projects, which have to invest in the development of a methodology as well as start-up costs. The cost of subsequent projects will be lower,” it adds.

In addition, the report recommends the establishment of a trust fund for pilot projects and education on the role and importance of rangelands as a means to curbing the effects of green house gases. The establishment of a database on costs of rangeland mitigation activities, it says, will help in identifying the best rangeland practices.

According to the report, the role of rangelands in climate change mitigation and adaptation should be taken into account in policy development processes. “In some countries such as Australia, the importance of rangeland carbon fluxes is already recognised. But in some countries e.g. in Africa or china, more science-based advocacy work is required to integrate rangeland management in climate policies,” it says.


East and Southern Africa
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