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Successes and Failures in Rangeland Restoration: An Icelandic Case Study

Petursdottir, Thorunn, Aradottir, Asa L., Baker, Susan, Halldorsson, Gudmundur, Sonneveld, Ben
Land degradation & development 2017 v.28 no.1 pp. 34-45
behavior change, case studies, farmers, land degradation, land management, questionnaires, rangelands, sheep, socioeconomics, stakeholders, surveys, Iceland
Rangeland restoration is a multilayered process aimed at improving land condition, often parallel to utilization. To ensure the long‐term progress that restoration programmes are expected to deliver, they must be designed, implemented and maintained in partnership with local stakeholders. Each programme should have clear goals, followed up by measurable ecological and/or socio‐economic objectives, to facilitate their evaluation in the long run. In this research, we examine if a large‐scale rangeland restoration programme in Iceland had contributed to the expected attitudinal and behavioural changes among the participating sheep farmers, as described in the initial objectives of the programme. A survey, based on a questionnaire on sheep farmers' attitude and behaviour related to rangeland restoration and land management practices, was used to gauge the perception of participating farmers, in comparison with non‐participating farmers. Our results show that participating farmers are more aware of the potential of rangeland restoration and are more motivated to engage in further collaboration, when compared with non‐participating farmers. Nevertheless, our results indicate that, despite extensive areas of degraded land already successfully treated within the restoration programme, the programme has not facilitated other anticipated attitudinal and behavioural changes among its participants as expected. Furthermore, it seems that the direct incentives provided by the programme are pushing participating farmers towards favouring agronomic instead of ecological approaches in their restoration activities, when compared with the non‐participating farmers. Our results also point to several organizational errors embedded in the programme management that might be halting its further progress. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.