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Homing in on the range : enabling investments for sustainable land management

Rangelands are places of important biodiversity and ecosystem services that occupy up to half of all land and up to three quarters of the world’s drylands, providing benefits to local communities, to economies and to global society. Desertification, or land degradation in the drylands, significantly affects rangelands, but in many countries measures to address rangeland degradation are weak or absent. Furthermore, evidence on the current health of rangelands is absent in most countries and this is contributing to inappropriate investments and policies that in turn can lead to desertification and poverty.

Sustainably managed rangelands provide a wide range of goods and services and sustainable rangeland development must be based on harnessing this diversity rather than intensive investment in single goods. Economic valuations demonstrate the high value of rangeland ecosystem services like water cycling, carbon sequestration and sedimentation control, and indicate where investments are likely to have the greatest aggregate return.

Sustainable management of rangelands requires innovative solutions both to manage the high levels of climatic risk that are experienced there and to address the many other unique features of dryland ecology. Such innovations are often found in customary management practices, but often these practices have been undermined by development and policy interventions. Re-enabling customary practices and supporting them to develop in a modern economy is central to sustainable rangeland management. Local institutions are vital for rangeland development and effective solutions tend to be grounded in improvements in local governance and communal resource rights.

This approach to Sustainable Rangeland Management requires a rethinking of orthodox investment paradigms, and the role of the private sector. Rangeland managers already invest heavily in terms of labour and social capital to produce a wide array of environmental and economic benefits; new investments should be responsive to these existing investments and the risk-management strategies of rangeland managers. More insight is needed into investment options and investor groups to determine where appropriate solutions are likely to come from, what enabling conditions are needed for improved investment, and safeguards that need to be in place. <Davies J., Ogali C., Laban P.  and Metternicht G., 2015. HOMING IN ON THE RANGE: Enabling Investments for Sustainable Land Management. Technical Brief 29/01/2015. Nairobi: IUCN and CEM. vi+23p>

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