African Rangelands and Pastoralism in a Changing Continent

Posted 2 March 2023 by NISC under Announcements & Notices • Journal: African Journal of Range & Forage Science
African Rangelands and Pastoralism in a Changing Continent

Following the increasing global recognition of the momentous dynamics that are globally reshaping rangelands and biodiversity, the Government of Mongolia proposed in 2019 that the United Nations (UN) declare an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP) in 2026. This proposal was subsequently endorsed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and approved by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2022. 

Under the global IYRP coalition, African researchers decided to develop a special issue of the African Journal of Range & Forage Science to provide evidence on diverse topical issues converging around the theme rangelands and pastoralism in a changing continent. 

This African-led special issue titled “African Rangelands and Pastoralism in a Changing Continent: Perspectives and Opportunities” contains papers demonstrating the multiple facets of rangelands and pastoralism, ranging from spatiotemporal changes in rangeland dynamics, pastoralists’ indigenous knowledge to rangeland management innovations and policy.

On spatiotemporal changes in rangeland dynamics, a paper featured in the special issue by Arena et al reports that the Eastern Karoo region in South Africa has become significantly grassier and more productive since the mid-20th century. This change was attributed to increased rainfall and a reduction in livestock numbers over the study period. Increasing grass cover has benefits for livestock production, but also increased fuel loads, particularly in lower-lying plains where fire disturbance is historically uncommon. Therefore, whilst increased grass cover provides a valuable forage resource to pastoralists’ herds, there is also the increased concern about the future risks and ecological implications of increasing fire frequency.

Within the special issue on the theme of Pastoralists’ indigenous knowledge, Finca etc al report a case study which found that communal farmers from the Eastern Cape in South Africa have in-depth indigenous and spatial knowledge about the management and changes in condition of their rangelands. However, because of ageing communal farmers, limited youth participation, and declines in agricultural extension services, this knowledge is increasingly not being incorporated to ensure effective communal rangeland management. There also appeared to be a breakdown in knowledge transfer, which dissuades young people from participating in livestock farming, and has negative consequences for sustainable use of communal rangelands.

The special issue is available to read at no cost until the end of April 2023 HERE. 


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