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Understanding Rangeland Biodiversity

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Blench, Roger; Sommer, Florian
Date: 1999
Agency: Overseas Development Institute, London
Series: Working Paper, no. 121
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4731
Sector: Grazing
Subject(s): rangelands
Abstract: "Rangelands are geographical regions dominated by grass and grass-like species with or without scattered woody plants, occupying between 18–23% of world land area excluding Antarctica. Rangelands are home both to significant concentrations of large mammals and plants with a high value in both leisure and scientific terms and to human populations that have historically been excluded and marginalised, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. However, rangelands present a paradox for the conservation ethic, however; most are definitely not ‘natural’ and very often prove to be recent formations. The great majority of the world’s rangelands are largely anthropic creations and this is particularly true where the dominant subsistence strategy is pastoralism. As such, they do not have a ‘natural’ biodiversity, making problematic the argument that they should either be preserved as they are, or somehow returned to their ‘original’ state. For this reason, it is essential to engage with history in understanding rangelands; without a narrative of the process whereby a given ecosystem reached its present state it is impossible to proceed with rational policy formulation. Where large mammals are involved, emotion has frequently triumphed over science in terms of management and investment strategies. Similarly, where the powerful economic interests of large-scale ranching predominate, biodiversity is generally ignored."

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