Montane Rangelands in a Changing World

Posted 9 March 2021 by under Announcements & Notices • Journal: African Journal of Range & Forage Science
Montane Rangelands in a Changing World

Mountains comprise a significant proportion of the world’s rangelands, rangelands being estimated at 25–40% of the globe. Volume 38, Issue 1, of African Journal of Range & Forage Science is a special issue on montane rangelands in a changing world. 

Montane grasslands have encouraged the evolution of diverse cultures, natural resource governance systems, some key domestication events, indigenous knowledge systems, livelihoods, food security adaptations, and spirituality around a common social-ecological essence: montane rangelands. 

Mountain rangelands have thus encouraged a particular form of pastorality: 'the quality of and values tied to something pastoral’. 

A case study from Namaqualand, South Africa (Samuels et al. 2021), featured in this Special Issue, illustrates the detrimental impact inappropriate policy can have on traditional montane pastoralism practices. Conflict is ongoing between conservation-oriented land-use, and subsistence or production land-uses, also a prominent topic for African rangelands, including montane systems.

Appropriate approaches to management, especially of fire, remain contentious, with widely different philosophies and practices of burning encountered across different land tenure systems. Specific burning regimes have emerged for sedentary land tenure systems during the post-colonial era. These have been commonly applied in southern African protected areas, which form a strong theme in this Special Issue regarding mesic rangeland management in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

A key outcome of this Special Issue is the value of long-term monitoring in mountain rangelands: five contributions present valuable results from long-term observations that span 22 to 38 years. These results indicate that substantial ecological changes (and their social and political implications) are evident over these time periods. Whether these changes are from local rangeland governance (including grazing history and fire management), or climate change, or both, can often be difficult to interpret. 

With nine out of 12 contributions, the Maloti-Drakensberg is the strongest geographic focus of this Special Issue while the Atlas Mountains, one of the highest and most extensive mountain systems in Africa, are represented in two vegetation- related papers.

The Special Issue hopes to encourage a more focused and integrated community of practice around this topic, especially an increased involvement from the non-natural sciences, because many of the more intractable issues around rangeland are primarily socio-cultural and political. 

Read this special issue for a limited period at no cost here.

Photo Credit: Protea roupelliae - Smith et al. 2021.JPG

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