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Earth stewardship on rangelands: Coping with ecological, economic, and political marginality

Nathan F. Sayre, Ryan R. J. McAllister, Brandon T. Bestelmeyer, Mark Moritz, Matthew D. Turner
Frontiers in ecology and the environment 2013 v.11 no.7 pp. 348-354
climate change, commercialization, globalization, governance, land tenure, land use change, livestock, livestock production, politics, ranchers, range management, rangelands
Rangelands encompass 30-40% of Earth's land surface and support 1-2 billion people. Their predominant use is extensive livestock production by pastoralists and ranchers. But rangelands are characterized by ecological, economic, and political marginality, and higher-value, more intensive land uses are impinging on rangelands around the world. Earth Stewardship of rangelands must address both livestock management and the broader socioecological dynamics that promote land-use changes, fragmentation, and degradation. We identify specific gradients on which human-rangeland systems can be arrayed, including issues of variability, adaptation to disturbance, commercialization, land use change, land tenure security and effective governance, and we illustrate the gradients' interactions and effects in sites worldwide. The result is a synthetic framework to understand how rangeland Earth Stewardship can be achieved in the face of marginality, globalization and climate change.