Economic Instruments can help to reorient Degraded Rangelands

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Sudan: This badly degraded land near El Azaza maya, now dominated by Calotropis procera, used to be vegetated by Acacia senegal

Date created: 27 Jun 2007

Paper Explores Payments for Ecosystem Services to Tackle Land Degradation in Drylands

With carefully designed policy support, economic instruments can help to reorient degraded rangelands towards more sustainable land management. This is one of the conclusions of an article published in the Journal of Environmental Management, based on a case study of land degradation in the Kalahari rangelands of southwest Botswana that was funded by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative.

According to the authors of the paper, titled ‘Reorienting land degradation towards sustainable land management: Linking sustainable livelihoods with ecosystem services in rangeland systems,’ conventional policies aimed at addressing bush encroachment – including some pilot initiatives under Botswana’s National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) – have had mixed results because they have primarily focused on ‘biophysical assessments of degradation,’ at the farm or ranch scale.

Discussing a variety of studies examining the impact of past livestock production policies that prioritized fencing of land, based on livestock carrying capacities, the authors conclude that such ‘political lock-in’ to the privatization of rangeland areas “may be further worsening land degradation and deepening already pronounced social and economic inequalities,” by placing constraints on mobility by livestock producers and “compromising the possibility of the multiple uses of rangeland.”

By contrast, they argue, more promising policy experiments, such as ‘an alternative narrative’ to reduce land degradation based on sustaining livelihoods in common property land tenure regimes “have not yet been mainstreamed.”

Read the full article: IISD


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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