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Rangeland Degradation, Poverty, and Conflict: How Can Rangeland Scientists Contribute to Effective Responses and Solutions?
- Bedunah, Donald J., Angerer, Jay P.
- Rangeland ecology & management 2012 v.65 no.6 pp. 606-612
- community development, developing countries, ecosystem services, ecosystems, environmental impact, food security, livelihood, organizations, planning, poverty, rangelands, scientists, solutions, stakeholders
- In many developing countries where rangelands are a dominant land type and critically important in livelihoods of a significant portion of the population, severe rangeland degradation and/or conflicts over rangeland use can create significant social, economic, and environmental problems. In this paper, we review rangeland degradation in the developing world, its impacts and causes, discuss problems in applying rangeland science to improve rangeland conditions, discuss the role of rangeland scientists, and discuss our approach for enhancing rangeland science in international development. We suggest range scientists can provide valuable input and direction on issues of rangeland degradation (including state changes and impacts on ecosystem goods and services), provide guidance in methods and realistic opportunities for rangeland improvement to local users, government, and development organizations, and work to provide pastoralists with adaptive management in variable ecosystems. Conflict and poverty can create situations where a long-term goal of sustainable rangeland use is overwhelmed by short-term needs of safety and food security; however, providing science and training on sustainable management can make a difference where conflicts are not too severe and can help promote societal stability. Negative perceptions about aid are widespread, but the needs for improved conditions associated with multiple values of rangelands, and the needs of people utilizing these areas, are great. Conducting planning and projects with transparency and accountability will help promote more inclusive participation and successful projects. To be effective, a project needs to consider the needs of the people utilizing the project area but also provide to these communities information on values of the rangelands to other stakeholders (ecosystem services). Sustainable projects will require accountability and enhance self-reliance to allow community empowerment and adaptability to changes.