Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2006
Publication Date: 12/1/2006
Citation: Vavra, M., Brown, J. 2006. Rangeland research: Strategies for providing sustainability and stewardship to the rangelands of the world. Rangelands. 28(6):7-14.
Interpretive Summary: Over the past decade, substantial changes have occurred in the way science and policy makers view rangelands. Prior to the mid-1990s, the predominant view of rangeland ecology was as populations, communities and landscapes that varied around a relatively stable equilibrium. Government programs and on-the-ground management were based primarily on the concept of setting appropriate long-term stocking rates (or use levels), struggling through economic and weather downturns, and recovering in above normal years. Although these principles were workable and profitable in some ecosystems (particularly those with an evolutionary history of grazing, fertile soils and reliable rainfall), many others suffered from irreversible degradation. The ideas of irreversible change, management interventions to avoid degradation and restoration of degraded land as an active long-term process are beginning to form the basis for many research programs.
Technical Abstract: Rangeland research is an important determinant of how rangelands are and will be used. Although larger external forces such as national and global economies and social and political attitudes have direct impact on uses of rangelands, the methods by which we implement and evaluate those economic and social priorities are based in research and development. Decisions made by rangeland scientists and their institutions today about priorities will have a definite and profound influence on the management of our rangelands in the future. The Society for Range Management, in a once-a-decade symposium, examines the current state of the science, existing technologies and changing social and political trends to identify research needs. In 2005, SRM brought together over 2 dozen speakers and 100 participants to examine new directions in rangeland use and management and propose changes to research that will provide decision-makers at all levels the necessary tools to set goals, implement management and monitor performance.