Action for Adaptation: ‘Rangelands are the most neglected subject in the world’

Published: July 25, 2015
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ISLAMABAD: The rangelands are most the neglected environmental subject not only in Pakistan but also in the world and people living in these areas are very poor. About 60 per cent of the Hindukush Himalayas (HKH) are rangelands which comes around to 4.3 million square kilometres starting from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

This was stated by a representative of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Muhammad Ismail, while giving a presentation on the second day of an international conference on Friday.

Khan said the pastoral areas are habitats of over 100 million people in this region and their main source of income are animals and important biodiversity habitats with abundant endemic species.  He said rangelands are natural sources of water storage and basins of major rivers systems in the region and they provide food directly to pastoral societies and animal proteins to societies downstream. He said they also provide non-grazing high value products and animal products and some religious sacred sites are also located in these rangelands.

The unpredictability of rangeland productivity causing shifts in temporal and spatial distribution of resources, valuation of rangeland ecosystem services with trends and trans-boundary concerns, multiple and efficient use of rangeland resources for livelihood diversification, innovative climate change adaptation strategies, rangeland interfaces with other ecosystems, climate change interwoven with globalization, knowledge gaps and low capacity are the key issues of rangelands.

He said most of the these issues can only be addressed through enabling policies by integrating economic and socio-ecological aspects of rangeland as multilevel governance that gives enough incentives and space for community participation through co-management and equitable and sustainable use of rangeland resources.

Rangelands are shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals

He said ICIMOD supported Nepal, Pakistan, China, India Bhutan and Afghanistan in formulation national rangeland policies besides of reviewing of polices and PES schemes and revision of land act for positive impact on pastoral communities.

WWF-Pakistan representatives Ali Dehlavi and Fatima Hamna shared their study for Naltar and Rakaposhi areas on climate change adaptation and greening of value chains in mountains areas. They said just over half of Naltar households fall below the international poverty line of $1-1.5 per person per day.

They added that in Naltar, there were about 5 per cent fewer households at Paeen falling below this poverty line and shared strategies for Naltar, and Rakaposhi’s including rainwater harvesting, flood defence and reallocated assets besides water conservation, crop shifting pattern and alternate livelihoods. They also suggested for disaster resilient shelters and early warning systems for Naltar and Rakaposhi.

The conference, Action for Adaptation, has been organised by ICIMOD, the Ministry of National Food Security, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Ministry of Climate Change, WWF Pakistan, and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2015.

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