Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2008
Publication Date: December 22, 2008
Citation: Havstad, K.M. 2008. Ecosystem functions of grazing lands. International Community Rangeland Management, People and Policy: Introducing Some Key Concepts. Ford Foundation Press. Topic #16. Interpretive Summary: Over 1 billion people live on or adjacent to the rangelands around the world. Typically, over one-half of these people, nearly 600 million, are engaged in subsistence animal husbandry. These are some of the poorest people in the world, often living on $1.00 U.S. or less per day. While these pastoralists harvest food and fiber from these rangelands, more of the world’s populations are demanding other services, including clean water, from these rangelands. Policies for resource management need to include appropriate incentives for he people that live on these lands.
Technical Abstract: An ecosystem is a community of animals and plants interacting with one another and their physical environment. Rangeland ecosystems are the communities of organisms including humans, interacting with each other within environments characterized by herbaceous and/or shrubby vegetation common to arid and semi-arid regions around the world. These ecosystems occur within the grasslands of Asia, the deserts of North America, the savannas of Africa, the shrublands of Australia, the pampas of /South America, and in many other regions. Over 1 billion people live within these rangeland ecosystems. Though many goods and services from rangeland ecosystems are critically important to the 1 billion people living on or adjacent to rangeland, many of these services lack specific economic values. Few services are linked to an economic market that would create specific values, or incentives for conservation of their provisions to the public. Often values for services have been based on the known values of common goods, such as the value of rangeland for providing forage for grazing livestock. These economic values are often quite low because of the relatively low production capacities of the world’s rangelands. However, markets for less traditional regulating services such as carbon sequestration, or cultural services such as recreation, are emerging. It will be critical that appropriate policies are implemented that provide appropriate incentives and benefits that will support the conservation of any ecosystem services as their economic values are more readily apparent and utilized.