Grassland, shrubland and savanna stewardship: where do we go from here?

TitleGrassland, shrubland and savanna stewardship: where do we go from here?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Sayre NF
Conference Name96th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting
Date Published08/2011
PublisherEcological Society of America
Conference LocationAustin, Texas
ARIS Log Number272488
AbstractScientific efforts to understand grasslands, shrublands and savannas and thereby develop sustainable management practices are roughly 100 years old. What have we learned in that time? Several assumptions made by scientists and policymakers early in the 20th century have proved mistaken, resulting in persistent degradation and many cases of unintended negative consequences. In particular, the belief that rangelands were only useful for livestock production no longer holds, and Clementsian ideas of succession and linear relations across scales of space and time have had to be replaced in light of empirical and theoretical advances in rangeland ecology.Successful stewardship in the 21st century will require policy revisions that address changing socio-economic conditions on rangelands in the US and abroad. Rapid land-use change—from livestock production to agriculture, urban development, and industry—requires policies that prevent fragmentation and preserve management options such as fire restoration. The discipline of rangeland ecology should partner with ranchers and pastoralists to study management effects at large spatial and long temporal scales, and to identify the times and places where opportunistic management practices can be implemented most effectively.