The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Exploring appropriate livelihood alternatives for sustainable rangeland management

Hojatollah Khedri Gharibvand A D , Hossein Azadi A B C and Frank Witlox A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Geography, Ghent University, Belgium.

B Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium.

C Economics Rural Development, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liege, Belgium.

D Corresponding author. Email: Hojatollah.Khedrigharibvand@ugent.be

The Rangeland Journal 37(4) 345-356 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ15027
Submitted: 11 June 2014  Accepted: 13 May 2015   Published: 24 July 2015

Abstract

Rangeland degradation and vulnerability of livelihoods are two major challenges facing pastoralists, rangeland managers and policy-makers in arid and semi-arid areas. There is a need to make holistic informed decisions in order to protect rangelands and sustain livelihoods. Through a comprehensive literature review on rangeland management policies and livelihood strategies of ‘rangeland users’, it is shown how such policies have affected sustainable rangeland management, how strategies to sustain livelihoods have been incomplete and how there has been a lack of a multi-disciplinary approach in acknowledging them. Accordingly, a set of appropriate livelihood alternatives is introduced and, thenceforth, a framework for their evaluation is developed. Supportive strategies for enhancing resilience are discussed as a research and policy-making gap. In this study, the keys to achieve sustainable livelihoods are acknowledged as ‘livelihoods’ resilience’, where livelihoods need to be supported by access to capital, means of coping with the contexts of vulnerability as well as by enhancing policies, institutions and processes. The paper proposes a set of ‘livestock-based livelihoods’ regarding ‘traditional pastoralism’ as well as ‘their mitigation and adaptation’. Moreover, their transformation to ‘commercial pastoralism’, ‘resource-based livelihoods’, ‘alternative livelihoods’ and ‘migration’ strategies is recognised to be employed by rangeland users as useful alternatives in different regions and under future changing conditions including climate change. These strategies embrace thinking on resilience and are supported by strategies that address social and ecological consequences of climate change consisting of mitigation, adaptation and transformation. It is argued that sustainable livelihoods and sustainable rangeland management will be achieved if they are supported by policies that build and facilitate a set of appropriate livelihood alternatives and keep them in a sustainable state rather than being limited to supporting ‘vulnerable livelihoods’. Finally, future directions for analysing and policy-making in selecting the best alternative to achieve sustainable livelihoods are indicated.

Additional keywords: livelihoods’ resilience, rangeland degradation, rangeland users, supportive strategies, sustainable livelihoods, vulnerability.


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