Ecosystem Management

A methodology to assess and monitor rangeland and grassland health – from theory to practice

What are rangelands and grassland and why are they important?

In collaboration with FAO, through a GEF funding project, the Global Ecosystem Management Programme has been working with the Commission on Ecosystem Management to develop and test a methodology to assess and monitor rangeland and grassland health for the last 3 years.

The PRAGA methodology is designed to assess ecosystem health in the specific context of rangelands and grasslands rangeland health supported by a limited number of core representative indicators. The framework adopts the good practice of ‘collect once, use many times’, and thus it fosters the use of environmental and socio economic indicators adopted by the three Rio Conventions for reporting. The methodology is designed to assess rangeland health at scale but with enough flexibility to adapt to specific context and country. The methodology is guided by two competing principles: adequate detail for decision making and low cost.

Praga Methodology Photo: IUCN

The methodology has been tested in 7 countries namely: Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt and Jordan. There are prospects to roll it out in other regions within these countries and also to replicate it in other countries. Most of the countries where the methodology has been tested so far are IUCN state members [OC1] and within the countries, IUCN members were involved to a large extend in testing the methodology.

The methodology can be used for awareness raising purposes at the local, national and global level. Awareness raising should also specifically target the importance of participatory approaches in decision-making. At the national level, the right audience should be targeted to ensure the methodology influences decision making processes at national and local level. At the global level, some of the audiences includes Civil Society organizations, Intergovernmental institutions, development partners, Banks, the private sector...

Some lessons include:

  • Local communities have a good knowledge of natural resources and their state
  • Local land degradation indicators are relevant to rangeland health assessment and they provide more detail than those of remote sensing
  • GIS and remote sensing tools allow for large-scale extrapolation of field assessment results
  • There is complementarity between the remote sensing and local field indicators methods, they can be integrated to develop a holistic tool for assessing rangelands
  • There is a need to exclusively consider the role of vulnerable groups and women as stakeholders
  • mapping exercise characterize the landscape and different scales (micro and macro)
  • Herder-led landscape classification gives better categorization and understanding of scale
  • If methodology is implemented across sites, a minimum set of indicators for cross-site comparison
  • There is need to validate the draft DPSIR framework with the rangeland users.







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