Resilience based rangeland management
A new approach to rangeland management in Mongolia
Resilience-based rangeland management is focused on the sustainable production of meat, fiber, and other environmental goods and services in the face of environmental and economic variability. The term “resilience” denotes the goal of managing and restoring pasture vegetation, soils, and animal health such that herder livelihoods can persist in the face of drought, dzud, climatic change, and market disruptions. Resilience-based rangeland management enables managers and herders to identify management problems and to recommend and implement solutions to those problems at the local level via herder’s customary organizations (such as Pasture Users Groups [PUGs], herder groups, and khot ail) and soum government.
The rangeland management framework used by ALAMGaC is described in the Soum Annual Land Management Planning (SALMP) manual. The SALMP process has been improved via i) involvement of PUG, herder group, and herder participation in developing and implementing; ii) establishment of grazing management impact monitoring programs at the local level, providing information on rangeland condition and expected carrying capacity to inform adaptive management and preparations for winter; iii) an increasing number of PUGs adopting Rangeland Use Agreements (see below) that are officially registered in the Land Manager database at the ALAMGaC; and iv) activities related to herd management and improving market access.
Five important steps are used in resilience-based rangeland management that rely on interactions mainly between MOFALI, ALAMGaC and NAMEM at the national level and PUGs and soum government at the local level (Fig. 1). These steps are a critical part of Rangeland Use Agreements (RUAs) that create a platform on which herders and local government can negotiate and agree on mutual rights and responsibilities to maintain rangeland health. RUAs are used to enforce community-led grazing and herd management plans, including grazing schedules and stocking rate adjustments.
The resilience-based rangeland management process begins with the establishment of PUGs (or other governance mechanisms) that organize herder communities (PUGs, herder groups) according to traditional grazing areas (step 1). Pasture boundaries are mapped and agreed upon by herders within the PUGs and with neighboring groups. Spatial information on ecological sites, seasonal pasture use, and rangeland state are added to the map (step 2). The soum land manager, rangeland specialist, and PUG representatives use ESDs to evaluate pasture areas within each PUG (step 2). Using the map and information in ESDs, yearly grazing plans are developed by herders and soum government officers including stocking rates, seasonal use schedules, and other restoration actions (step 3). Plans are implemented via herders following the technical recommendations provided by rangeland and animal breeding officers (step 4). Recent experience indicates that this is the most complex step because a variety of decisions must be made on activities including rotational grazing, fodder preparation, animal breeding, animal health management, and marketing. The impact of management in different seasonal pastures is assessed by the land manager at the PUG level using the recently-implemented photopoint method and observations of pasture use (step 5a). Based on the assessment, the land manager updates a map of ecosystem states and recovery classes that provide a spatially-explicit representation of management needs. This map is an important tool to adjust or enforce management actions. Long-term monitoring data by NAMEM and ALAMGaC at their respective monitoring sites are delivered to aimag and national offices and trends are reported to herders, soum government, and the national public (step 5b). New information about rangeland change can be used by NAMEM and ALAMGaC to periodically update ESD documents.
Figure 1.Steps in the resilience-based management approach are revised under the implementation process.
These steps involve a number of organizations at national and local levels, so coordination between these actors is crucial, including;
- Herder Institutes; PUGs, Soum Associations of Pasture User Groups (APUGs), Aimag Federations of Pasture User Groups (AFPUG) and Mongolian National Federation of Pasture User Groups (MNFPUG)
- Government agencies: NAMEM, ALAMGaC, Inter Aimags Reserve Rangeland Management Administration (IARRMA), General Authority for Veterinary Services (GAVS), National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC)
- Private sector; processing companies, Banks, Business groups
- Universities, Research Institutes
- Environmental projects, NGOs