Silent demise of rangelands threatens climate, food security: UN report-Xinhua

Silent demise of rangelands threatens climate, food security: UN report

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-21 15:55:30

BERLIN, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Up to 50 percent of the world's rangelands are degraded, endangering food security and the wellbeing of billions, warned the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in a report on Tuesday.

Rangelands constitute 54 percent of Earth's land cover, account for one sixth of global food production and represent nearly one third of the planet's carbon reservoir, according to the Global Land Outlook Thematic Report on Rangelands and Pastoralists.

The report highlighted issues such as soil erosion, salinization, and biodiversity loss due to overuse, misuse, and climate change, while pointing out that converting rangelands to cropland and urban areas exacerbates these problems.

"When we cut down a forest, when we see a 100-year-old tree fall, it rightly evokes an emotional response in many of us. The conversion of ancient rangelands, on the other hand, happens in 'silence' and generates little public reaction," said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw.

"Despite numbering an estimated half a billion individuals worldwide, pastoralist communities are frequently overlooked, lack a voice in policy-making that directly affects their livelihoods, are marginalised, and are even often seen as outsiders in their own lands," Thiaw added.

"Imbalance between the supply of and demand for animal forage lands leads to overgrazing, invasive species, and the increased risk of drought and wildfires -- all of which accelerate desertification and land degradation trends around the world," said Maryam Niamir-Fuller, co-chair of the International Support Group for the UN's International Year for Rangelands and Pastoralists 2026.

"For the sake of future generations and economic stability, we need to improve awareness of and safeguard the immense value of rangelands," said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

"Managers require authoritative insights into the response of rangelands to different disturbances and management approaches, including policy tools that better capture the broad social importance of rangelands," he added.

The report recommends integrating climate strategies, reducing land conversion, and supporting pastoralism to restore rangeland health.

"The meaningful participation of all stakeholders is key to responsible rangeland governance, which fosters collective action, improves access to land and integrates traditional knowledge and practical skills," said Pedro Maria Herrera Calvo, the report's lead author.