Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2008
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
Citation: Havstad, K.M., Herrick, J.E., Tseelei, E. 2008. Mongolia's rangelands: is livestock production the key to the future? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 6:386-391. Interpretive Summary: Over 600 million people or 50% of the world’s poor, living on US $1 or less per day are engaged in subsistence animal agriculture. Raising livestock, primarily cattle, sheep, or goats, on the world’s rangelands seldom provide economic opportunities to raise living standards. However, the rangelands utilized by these pastoralists, around the world, have other economic opportunities due to the array of natural resources present on these sites. These opportunities include recreation, carbon sequestration, conservation of species, and production of higher market value goods. This paper presents various viewpoints about the potential of herders in a particular country, Mongolia, to diversity their livelihoods. Yet, this debate has application to the rangelands and pastoralists around the world. In order to expand the good and services harvested from rangelands by the herders, scientists and economists will need to thoroughly identify and explain the values of these alternative goods and services, and how to capture these values.
Technical Abstract: Approximately half of the world’s land areas is rangeland. Over 1.5 billion people live on or immediately adjacent to this land type. Common to these rangelands are over 1 billion domesticated animals, primarily cattle, sheep and goats that are managed by pastoralists. The ruminant digestive system common to these livestock species evolved over 20 million years ago and is a mutualistic digestive system that break cellulose bonds to free masses of metabolizable energy present it the nature and introduced forages of these rangelands. Approximately 10% of eh world’s population are pastoralists, and many of these people live at poverty levels. However, these landscapes can also provide additional goods and services other than food and fiber. This manuscript is a viewpoint article that debates the capacity of pastoralists, specifically those in Mongolia, to develop other goods and services in order to increase their standard of living while maintaining a sustained capacity to produce food and fiber A key need for managing a diverse set of goods and services form any landscape, including grasslands, of Mongolia, is knowledge of the values of alternative ecosystem services and their resulting economic opportunities. This knowledge is unavailable at this time except for a few services with market opportunities.