Sustainable Management of Rangelands
Rangeland is a term used to in the US describe unforested, extensive lands that dominate the western half of the continent. Across the globe, rangelands are known as plains, shrub lands, steppes, grasslands, prairies, tundra, swards and semi-deserts.
There are different types of rangelands and together they form at least half of the earth’s total land surface. At least forty eight percent of the land in Idaho is rangeland. Rangelands are used for production of a range of services and goods desired by society and this includes livestock forage, wood products, wildlife habitat, mineral resources, wildland recreation, natural beauty and open space.
It is because of geographic extent and important resources of rangelands that it is important for them to be used properly. What is more, proper and sustainable management of rangelands ensures that people everywhere benefit from them. This includes purposes such as wildlife habitat, watersheds, grazing by livestock, aesthetics and recreation as well as other associated uses.
Developing management plans for rangeland requires information about:
- The objectives of the land owner
- Current condition of the rangelands
- Intended use
- Productive capabilities of the rangeland
The first consideration that should be weighed when carrying out management of rangelands is how the vegetation resource will be used for any prescribed grazing system. Some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration include the grazing period, animal impact, rest, levels of use as well as deferment that the changes will bring to the community.
The second aspect that needs to be considered is identification of practices that are necessary for implementing the desired grazing system. This is because such practices can help influence or control livestock movement which is necessary for ensuring there is even grazing distribution. The practices might include stock trails, fencing, herding, water developments and salting etc.
There are also supplementary practices which can be taken up in order t ensure that sustainable management of rangelands is achieved. Such practices can lead to dramatic changes and should be applied and planned carefully and they include, brush management, prescribed burning, mechanical treatment, water spreading, fertilizing and seeding.
There are professionals who oversee the management of private and public rangelands. There is also a growing number of professionals who work as resource facilitators for purposes of bringing together resource facilitators so they can craft suitable stewardship plans. Sustainable rangeland management is founded on ecological principals and deals with use of a range resources and rangelands for different kinds of purposes.
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