Rangeland occupies just over half (6.7 billion ha) of the earth’s land surface and more than 60% of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. The rangelands in the Himalayan region are fragile and sensitive to climate change and improper management. Sustainable management of rangeland resources is paramount both to sustain local populations and to maintain the various ecosystem services that the rangelands provide. The primary use of the rangelands in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region is for grazing livestock – since animals form the basis of people’s livelihoods in the high mountains. However, the rangelands have many other uses and provide many different services, a fact that is being increasingly recognised. High mountain rangelands and pastures provide goods and services to multiple stakeholders, and as the pressure on the resources increases, so the lack of effective communication between these stakeholders can lead to conflicts. Stakeholders urgently need to be brought together to develop a co-management approach for rangeland resources that will ensure that all stakeholders can benefit from the resource whilst maintaining its integrity. New issues are emerging as a result of increasing environmental change and these require more adaptive responses through active range management. However, herders and rangeland managers have little information on which to base their responses to the changes affecting the region.
ICIMOD has more than a decade of research and development experience in regional rangeland programmes in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. ICIMOD plans to assess the impacts of climate change and globalisation in rangeland areas and identify good practices for adaptation strategies through both modern scientific methods and traditional systems. The Centre would also like to demonstrate rangeland improvement technologies and build capacity among cooperating partners, government officials, and communities to enhance the ecosystem services. Rangeland management will customise the Millennium Assessment framework to benefit the region.
Livelihoods of pastoralists (both pure and semi-pastoralists) have, in general, remained constrained with limited opportunities. The sector has been highly neglected in terms of both development and policies. In its new strategy, ICIMOD would like to improve the livelihoods of poor herders by introducing a multiple-use approach to rangelands. Range resources can be improved and linked with income-generating opportunities, including improved livestock production and value addition mechanisms along with non-grazing income channels. The marketing of rangeland products will be specifically addressed during the next five years.