Sustainable Management of Rangelands
The sustainable management of rangelands and associated environmental issues contribute significantly to our well being. Rangelands are a greater part of our environment and are responsible for a variety of life’s essentials like fresh air, water resources, minerals, coal, oil, recreational facilities among others. The climatic conditions in rangelands vary from one region to another. However, they usually experience low rainfall with variable arid and semi-arid conditions. Although pastoralism is the main activity conducted in rangelands, some also serve as mining grounds and tourist attraction sites.
What is Sustainable Management of Rangelands?
Sustainable management of rangelands is a set of strategies and measures aimed at ensuring that rangelands and the resources therein are protected against exploitation by human agents among other factors. When these lands are properly conserved, they are able to not only serve the current generation but also the ones to come.
Rangelands refer to an extensive area of land covered by grass, savanna and shrubs. However, there are also other kinds of vegetation that can be found on rangelands. Besides, rangelands can also have other resources like mineral and water reserves although these vary from one region to another.
The Current State of Rangelands
Although the life in rangelands goes on without the knowledge of many people, several tracks are laying in waste due to irresponsible human activities and factors like climate change. As a result of this, several plant and animal species have become extinct with others facing a similar threat. Considering the roles played by these species in the ecosystem, the degradation of rangelands also impacts human life.
There are various factors which have contributed towards the degradation of rangelands. Some of these factors are tied to human practices over the years like mining, road constructions and other developments necessitating land clearance.
Irresponsible mining activities do not only destroy the rangelands but also depletes the resources in those lands like coal and oil. There are rangelands that used to have mineral resources but have today been all wiped out because of unregulated mining practices.
Pollution of water resources is another threat that is causing destruction to rangelands. Despite the various measures towards disposal of wastes, many industries still release harmful chemicals into rangelands, harming the lives that thrive therein. Apart from industrial wastes, many families still do not observe proper waste disposal procedures. As a result of this, some portion of the wastes find their way into range land.
Due to urbanization, many rangelands have been consumed by rising commercial and residential developments, limiting grazing space. With the limited space, there is greater pressure on the existing rangelands because of the competition for the resources by grazers.
Climate change has also played a critical role in the current state of rangelands. It hinders the reproduction and development of various animal and plant species. Besides, climate change has also contributed to immense drought across many rangelands, making them inhabitable.
Strategies for Sustainable Management of Rangelands
In order to deal with all the above issues facing rangelands, there are various measures and policies that have been formulated. Since the threats vary from one region to another, there are short term and long term measures.
In the past and even some countries today, conservation of rangelands has been a reserve of the natives of those regions. However, many have failed due to lack of adequate tools, means and information on environmental conservation. This has necessitated many governments and agencies to come up with campaigns to educate people on the importance of rangelands and environmental conservation.
An example of such campaigns is the ‘’Caring for Our Country’’ initiative by the Government of Australia. The initiative is targeting sustainable land management in rangelands.
There is also a wide range of policies that have been created and implemented to ensure that the use of rangelands is regulated. These policies may not generally address rangelands but are focused on imposing restrictions on various human activities like mining, illegal hunting expeditions, land clearance, waste disposal among others. There are also policies aimed at monitoring of vegetation and conservation of threatened animal and plant species.
Although the above measures may be helpful in sustainable management of rangelands, they are not adequate in eliminating the threats. More efforts and individual responsibility is still required for the well being of rangelands.
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