‘Momentum is building for promoting sustainable rangeland landscapes, and Africa is in the lead.’ This was the observation of Abdelkader Bensada, programme management officer for the United Nations Environment (UN Environment), at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) held 29–30 August 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. Bensada was a panelist in a discussion on rangelands hosted by the Rangelands Initiative of the International Land Coalition (ILC) at the GLF. This well attended forum explored what the use of the landscape approach can look like in rangelands, and how it can contribute effectively to global initiatives for sustainable landscapes.
Speaking at the forum, Ikal Angelei of Friends of Lake Turkana, argued that integrative perspectives and approaches are desperately needed in pastoralist rangelands. ‘Piecemeal information leads to piecemeal action, which distorts the entire ecosystem.’ She emphasized the need to consider pastoralists’ ways of life when implementing development programs, including taking into account their mobility across borders, because pastoralists are the main custodians of rangelands. John Kamanga of Kenya’s Southern Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), similarly spoke on how state-imposed boundaries can impede the scaling up of effective rangeland management approaches because such boundaries break up traditional pastoral territories.
However, while acknowledging existing challenges, the panelists drew from their experiences in rangeland management and governance to share success stories from around the world. Experiences of land use planning, rangeland restoration, and strengthening of traditional institutions among pastoralists in Iran and Mongolia were shared by Nahid Naghizadeh of the Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment (CENESTA) and Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei of the Green Gold project, respectively. Stephen Nindi of the National Land Use Planning Commission of Tanzania highlighted how communities, non-governmental organizations and government are collaborating in the co-creation of sustainable landscapes. These experiences spurred vibrant discussions on lessons learned and how they can be applied in various contexts in different countries.
Comments from the audience included that of Ibrahim Inuwa of Nigeria, who highlighted that landscape management challenges across West Africa include increasing conflicts between pastoralists and farmers over land access and use. He affirmed that lessons from the session on working with stakeholders to bridge information gaps in sustainable rangelands, would help him in his work.
Momentum is building for promoting sustainable rangeland landscapes
Despite some promising initiatives in recent years to apply the landscape approach on a diversity of ecosystem types; rangelands, with their specific social and biophysical characteristics, have been insufficiently covered. Insights emerging from the presentations and discussions at the GLF underscored the fact that the time is ripe for stakeholders in landscape restoration to integrate rangelands management approaches into their strategies and interventions.
Momentum is building at national and global levels for promoting sustainable rangeland landscapes as a critical component of the concerted efforts towards land restoration. At the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in May 2016, member countries and partners called for support towards the establishment of an ‘International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists’. It was envisioned that this would serve as an platform to raise awareness and increase knowledge and appreciation of pastoralism and rangelands. It would also promote a deeper understanding of the unique ecosystems and inhabitants of rangelands, in view of the implementation of land restoration initiatives. If they are to be effective, land restoration objectives and institutional structures need to be tailored to the unique characteristics of rangeland systems. The UNEA-2 conference resolved to work towards, ‘Combating desertification, land degradation, and drought and promoting sustainable pastoralism and rangelands.’
These and other efforts continue to call on organizations and governments around the world to a new awareness of the criticality of sustainable pastoralism and rangelands in environmental conservation debates at all levels. Although rangelands have for a long time remained at the fringes of most of the global environmental processes and debates, there is now a strong impetus toward developing the knowledge that will be needed for their inclusion.
The Rangelands Initiative of the International Land Coalition
The International Land Coalition (ILC) is a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organizations working together to put people at the centre of land governance . The shared goal of the over 200 members of the ILC is to realize land governance for, and with, people at the country level; respond to the needs, and protect the rights, of women, men and communities who live on and from the land.
ILC, carries out this work through its Rangelands Initiative program, the global component of which is coordinated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Partners in the initiative include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and UN Environment. The discussion forum at the GLF was supported by the CGIAR Research Programs on Livestock, and Policies, Institutions and Markets.
ILRI’s work on rangelands is featured in the Partner Spotlight section of the latest GLF newsletter.
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest knowledge-led multi-stakeholder platform for integrated land use. Its core funding is provided by the German government. For more information about the GLF, visit https://www.globallandscapesforum.org/ .
For more information contact:
ILC Rangelands Initiative global component – Fiona Flintan, senior scientist, ILRI: firstname.lastname@example.org